Baltimore County Digest

BALTIMORE COUNTY DIGEST

December 14, 2006

Woman pleads guilty to scalding 2-year-old

A 22-year-old Brooklyn Park woman pleaded guilty yesterday to scalding a friend's 2-year-old son in a hotel bathtub, leaving the boy with permanent injuries that doctors say will prevent him from ever walking again.

Entering an Alford plea on one count of first-degree child abuse, Montia G. Hughes did not admit that she abused Jonah Wali Coffey but acknowledged that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict her of doing so.

As part of the plea agreement, Baltimore County Circuit Judge Robert E. Cahill Jr. agreed to sentence Hughes to no more than 10 years of prison time. No sentencing hearing has been scheduled.

Yesterday marked one year to the day that Jonah suffered second- and third-degree burns to 35 percent of his body after Hughes immersed the boy in scalding bath water at the Ramada Inn in Loch Raven.

Prosecutor Susan Hazlett has previously said in court that Hughes intentionally burned the toddler because he "made her angry" by soiling himself or "because he was acting like a typical 2-year-old."

The injuries were exacerbated by the failure of the boy's mother, Regina G. Coffey, to do anything more than apply ointment to her son's burns. Jonah did not receive any other medical treatment until the mother of a woman with whom Regina Coffey went shopping took the boy to the hospital about 72 hours after the boy was burned, Hazlett said yesterday in court.

Regina Coffey was sentenced in May to seven years in prison for child abuse for failing to tend to her son's injuries.

Doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital initially thought they would have to amputate one or both of Jonah's feet and that he might not survive the infection that set in after the burns went untreated for so long, Hazlett told the judge.

His condition has improved, Hazlett said, although the boy is scheduled to undergo three surgeries in the next six weeks and faces regular operations throughout his life to expand the scar tissue on the lower half of his body as he grows.

Hughes told police that she would take the fall for Jonah's injuries because she was in love with the boy's mother, Hazlett told the judge.

Jennifer McMenamin

Government

Smith senior aide resigns his post

Damian O'Doherty, senior adviser to Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr., has resigned his post to join the law firm of Gildea & Schmidt as a lobbyist.

O'Doherty became Smith's spokesman in 2003 and his senior aide in 2004. As senior aide, he served as the administration's liaison to the County Council, and met frequently with community leaders and interest groups.

At Gildea & Schmidt, which represents residential developers in the region, O'Doherty will chair the firm's governmental affairs practice, working mostly in Annapolis.

"It's a tremendous opportunity to go to work with someone who has the intelligence of this law firm," said O'Doherty, who made $143,000 as Smith's senior aide.

Smith said in a statement that O'Doherty's contributions to his administration have been "invaluable."

Donald I. Mohler, a spokesman for Smith, said he will take on O'Doherty's responsibility as the administration's liaison to the council. Mohler said the executive plans to hire someone soon to fulfill O'Doherty's other duties.

Josh Mitchell

Criminal justice

Police to swear in 39 officers

The Baltimore County Police Department plans to swear in 39 officers at a ceremony in Towson tonight.

The recruits have completed 27 weeks of training in the county's police academy and will begin an additional eight weeks of training with veteran officers, the department said.

Federal prosecutor Rod Rosenstein will address the recruits, who make up the department's 123rd training class.

The ceremony will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Notre Dame Preparatory School, 815 Hampton Lane.

Medicine

Cancer center offers free program

The Greater Baltimore Medical Center's Cancer Center will hold a Look Good Feel Better session from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday..

Look Good Feel Better is a free program, held once a month, designed for women undergoing cancer treatment, addressing changes to skin and hair.

A licensed cosmetologist runs the small-group session, and kits are provided for the 12-step makeup application process. Women will learn about caring for wigs, skin and nails, and other issues.

The session will be held in Physicians Pavilion East Conference Center at GBMC, 6565 N. Charles Street. Parking is available in Garage E.

Registration: 443-849-2037. Information: www.lookgood feelbetter.org.

Events or news items for the Baltimore County Digest may be submitted to baltco.news@baltsun.com. Information should be sent at least 10 days in advance of the event.

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