Attorney wants abuse, assault counts dismissed against LaJeuness

The attorney of an Oakland Mills woman accused of child abuse and assault — and whose 3-year-old son died in April 2011 in a separate case — is seeking to have four of those five charges against her dismissed.

Joaquinia LaJeuness, 28, is facing two counts of second-degree child abuse, one count of second-degree assault, one count of conduct contributing to abuse and one count of obstructing and hindering a police officer, according to a copy of an indictment handed down in January by a Howard County Grand Jury.

The investigation into the death of Elijah Izale LaJeuness remains open, and no charges have been filed.

Joaquinia LaJeuness is scheduled to appear in court Friday, March 23 for a hearing on two motions from her defense attorney seeking to have all but one of the counts of second-degree child abuse dismissed. The remaining count alleges that LaJeuness abused Elijah between Nov. 1 and Nov. 3, 2010.

Louis P. Willemin argues that the other count of second-degree child abuse — accusing LaJeuness of failing to prevent Elijah from being physically abused "when it was reasonably possible to act and when she had a duty to do so" — should be dropped because prosecutors failed to state an actual offense.

Prosecutors, in a written response, say LaJeuness had signed an agreement with the Department of Social Services not to allow a man to have contact with her children, but nevertheless continued to allow him to do so.

Willemin also wants the assault, contributing conduct, and obstruction charges dismissed because they were filed too late. Those charges, he said, are misdemeanors not punishable by jail or prison time. Any prosecution on such charges must come within a year from when they allegedly occurred, he said.

Those charges date back to November and December 2010.

Police said the county Department of Social Services received a report on Nov. 3 that Elijah, then 2, had marks and bruises on his face. The department contacted police six days later. A doctor determined that the injuries were not accidental, but there was not enough evidence at the time for criminal charges to be filed, according to police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn.

On April 13, 2011, police were called to the 9600 block of Basket Ring Road at about 4 a.m. and found Elijah unresponsive. The boy was taken to Howard County General Hospital and later pronounced dead. In July, his death was ruled by the state medical examiner's office to have been caused by asphyxiation.

Police said Joaqunia LaJeuness and her boyfriend were in the home with Elijah on April 13 and did not cooperate with investigators.

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