A Baltimore County Circuit Court judge ruled Wednesday that Ebony Odoms acted in self-defense during a fight at a Lansdowne Walmart last fall.
Judge Jan Marshall Alexander cleared the 29-year-old Reisterstown woman of all charges in the Oct. 8 altercation with Theresa M. Jefferson. The bleach-throwing incident sent 19 people to the hospital and shut down the store for several hours while it was cleaned and ventilated.
Odoms testified that Jefferson attacked her by throwing bleach on her and spilling it in her eyes while she shopped with her 6-year-old daughter and her fiance, Calvin Pannell. Jefferson and Pannell once dated and have a son together.
"The first thing in my mind was [to] defend my child," said Odoms, who works at Sinai Hospital. "What happened after that was a fight."
Wednesday's bench trial lasted for about an hour and a half.
Jefferson, 34, of Lansdowne pleaded guilty in April to second-degree assault. She was ordered to 100 hours of community service, two years of supervised probation and three years of unsupervised probation. Baltimore County Circuit Judge Robert E. Cahill Jr. also banned her from Walmart for five years.
During her 15-minute court appearance in April, Jefferson told Cahill she was sorry the incident "escalated" as it did. Jefferson, a radiology student, said the situation was "humiliating."
Odoms' attorney, Stephen R. Tully, called Baltimore County police Officer Erin Risko to the stand. Risko said that when she arrived at the Walmart, she saw Odoms in the bathroom flushing bleach from her eyes while about 45 percent of her outfit was spotted with bleach.
"She was in pretty bad shape and just upset," the officer said.
Both women originally faced charges of first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and malicious destruction of property.
As Odoms left the courtroom, she held up her arms and said, "Thank you, Jesus."
Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater contributed to this article.
twitter.com/yvonnewengerCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun