While authorities wonder whether 8-year-old Timothy A. Washington Jr. is still alive, the man accused of abducting the East Baltimore boy five months ago was freed yesterday.
Keith Garrett pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor extortion and received a suspended 18-month sentence in Baltimore Circuit Court. He had been charged with kidnapping the boy and demanding that his ex-girlfriend, who is Timothy's mother, swap their 4-year-old daughter for the boy.
Mr. Garrett, 22, was arrested in October and had been held in lieu of bail at the Baltimore City Detention Center. He was freed after his court appearance yesterday, a Detention Center spokeswoman said.
Prosecutors dismissed the kidnapping charge against Mr. Garrett, who is not the boy's father. "We didn't want to go to trial on that charge," Assistant State's Attorney Timothy J. Doory said, adding that the kidnapping case remains under investigation. The move left open the possibility that Mr. Garrett could be charged again with the crime.
Three city homicide detectives stood just outside the open door to Baltimore Circuit Judge Mabel H. Hubbard's courtroom yesterday as Mr. Garrett told the judge, "I didn't do it," while pleading guilty to extortion. Mr. Garrett entered an Alford plea, in which a defendant maintains his innocence but acknowledges the existence of sufficient evidence for a conviction.
As the hearing neared its end, Timothy's mother, 26-year-old Anne Green, began to sob. She later said she has no idea what has happened to her son, but she cited "a mother's intuition" in saying she "knows" her son is still alive.
Police continue to pursue leads, both in the neighborhood and out of state.
The boy, a student at Charles Carroll of Carrollton Elementary School, disappeared from an area near his aunt's apartment in the 1000 block of Orleans St. on Sept. 11.
During the hearing Mr. Doory said Timothy, who turned 8 last month, hasn't been seen since.
He said Mr. Garrett called Ms. Green on Oct. 1 and said he had the boy and wanted to exchange him for visitation or custody of their daughter. Mr. Doory said Ms. Green had refused to allow Mr. Garrett to visit the girl.
When Ms. Green met Mr. Garrett the next day near Lexington Market, an undercover detective was in a nearby taxi. Attempts to tape-record the meeting were unsuccessful, but Mr. Garrett and Ms. Green got into the cab driven by the detective for the ride over to the woman's home in the 1200 block of Appleleaf Court in East Baltimore.
Following Mr. Garrett's instruction, the woman brought the daughter to him and police "swooped in" and arrested the man, Mr. Doory said.