Jayden Curtis didn't have much of a chance, his great-aunt Glenda Curtis said.
The 21-month-old boy was found fatally beaten June 30 outside a Northeast Baltimore hotel. It took another 10 days before Baltimore police detectives announced who they believed was at fault: the boy's mother, Cierra Curtis, 19.
"This is horrible," Glenda Curtis said. "She needed help and was just not capable to raise him."
On Friday, a District Court commissioner ordered the teenage mother held in lieu of $1 million bail, state court records show. Police said she beat Jayden to death and charged her Thursday with second-degree murder, first-degree assault, first-degree child abuse and three other criminal counts. Glenda Curtis said her niece is four months pregnant with another child.
No attorney was listed in court records. The Baltimore City Public Defender's Office did not respond to a request for comment.
Cierra Curtis reported her child's death to police. Just before midnight June 30, police said, she ran screaming toward two officers involved in a traffic stop in the 5800 block of Reisterstown Road.
"I swear I'm not a bad mother; my baby's not breathing," the officers said she told them, according to a statement of charges.
Behind her came her boyfriend, Kevin Green, 30, carrying Jayden. Officers said the boy was gasping for air and was cold to the touch. Paramedics took him to Sinai Hospital, where a doctor pronounced him dead a short time later.
An autopsy determined that Jayden had been killed by blunt force trauma, the police report said. Police spoke with witnesses and later arrested Cierra Curtis.
Glenda Curtis said she believes her niece was not prepared to become a mother when Jayden was born Sept. 26, 2012. She had worked in a strip club and lived a transient existence, she said. For a while, she was living with her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
But when her mother moved into another home with a boyfriend, Glenda Curtis said, Cierra had to find another place to live. She moved in with a friend but the arrangement didn't work out, Glenda said. She then moved into the Red Carpet Inn.
Off and on, Glenda Curtis said, she would see Cierra and her son. The boy seemed thin and was often dirty and disheveled, she said. Cierra occasionally dropped Jayden off with a relative to watch for a few hours, then wouldn't return for days, she said.
"This has just been my worst fear come to reality," Glenda Curtis said.