Mother convicted of killing baby girl

November 18, 2006|By Andrea F. Siegel

A Glen Burnie mother was convicted yesterday of killing her baby girl last year - a beating case that authorities say she initially blamed on her toddler son.

Arkia Douglas, 22, entered an Alford plea to child abuse resulting in death, in which she did not admit to the crime to Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck, but acknowledged that prosecutors had sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction. Prosecutors said Douglas battered the child and then placed the limp baby in a swing.

The Aug. 4, 2005, death of 15-day-old La'Monica by brain injury was among five killings of youngsters in a 20-month period in the county- roughly one-fifth of the homicides. It so alarmed prosecutors that they began working with a hospital to add abuse prevention into a prenatal program for at-risk parents.

Douglas, who has a middle-school education, said nothing beyond answering Manck's routine questions about her plea.

"Mommy did it," was the response Douglas' 3-year-old son gave police when asked what happened to the infant between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Aug. 2, 2005. Demonstrating, "Little Wayne" shook a Mickey Mouse doll and threw it on a sofa, said Assistant State's Attorney Laura S. Kiessling. At her mother's urging, Douglas took the baby to North Arundel Hospital within several hours of her injuries. The child was transferred almost immediately to Johns Hopkins Hospital.

But physicians there said that despite Douglas saying her son must have dropped the infant, the many injuries could not have been inflicted by him. La'Monica suffered multiple skull fractures, the type of eye damage that signals shaken baby syndrome, bleeding around the brain and a fingernail partly pried from the nail bed.

Prosecutors agreed to seek no more than 12 years in prison at the Feb. 5 sentencing, not including any time suspended. Assistant Public Defender Karl Gordon said he will ask for a shorter sentence, and expects to have a psychiatrist testify.

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