A 15-year-old Baltimore girl pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder and related assault, handgun and robbery charges for shooting two men in the head last year after they laughed at the sight of her brandishing a silver Smith & Wesson revolver.
Arteesha Holt, who was 14 when she killed one man and injured the other as they sat outside on an August night, faces between 15 and 50 years in prison at her sentencing, scheduled for Sept. 21 in Baltimore Circuit Court.
She was led into court in handcuffs and chains Tuesday, baby-faced and smiling in the direction of her family. Her mother, Raichelle Johnson, who was in the courtroom, told The Baltimore Sun last year that the girl was "unstable," violent and in need of help.
Holt's 19-year-old brother, Shawn Palmer, was also charged in connection with the crimes and has been jailed since late September. He pleaded guilty Tuesday to being an accessory after the fact and for wearing and carrying the murder weapon, which police said they later recovered after he threw it away during a foot chase.
Palmer, a skinny teen with glasses, was sentenced to concurrent five- and three-year prison terms, though all of the time was suspended. His convictions will also be reversed at the halfway point of a five-year probation term if he stays out of trouble.
Neither defendant had prior criminal records, Assistant Public Defender Marci Johnson said, and neither chose to address the court.
On Aug. 13 last year, two Honduran men — Jose Rodolfo Gonzalez-Coreas, 43, and Wilmer Bonilla, 26 — sat talking on rowhouse steps near Patterson Park, when Holt approached them, demanding cash, a prosecutor said.
"Mr. Bonilla and Mr. Gonzales-Coreas did not take her seriously and began to laugh," Assistant State's Attorney Nicole Lomartire said during the plea hearing, reading aloud from a statement of case facts.
Holt fired the gun, grazing Bonilla and fatally wounding Gonzales-Coreas, who died a week later.
Holt fled and found her brother, Lomartire said. She was crying and repeating, ''I did it, I did it.'"
Palmer got her out of the area and retrieved the gun, which he later showed off around town, telling people he planned to sell it, according to court records, but police got to it first. Analysts later recovered Holt's DNA from the weapon, Lomartire said.
The girl answered a list of questions during the hearing. She was satisfied with her lawyers, she said; she was on medication for depression and sleeping troubles; and she was now in the ninth grade through a jailhouse education program.
And yes, she said, she was guilty.
Circuit Judge Martin P. Welch checked in with her mother, asking Johnson if she agreed with her daughter's decision to plead.
"Yes," Johnson said.