Lawyers for a woman charged with murdering an acquaintance she suspected of child abuse were granted access yesterday to records of the child abuse investigation that may focus on the victim.
Circuit Court Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. ruled that attorneys for Arletta Mary Moore, 29, of Glen Burnie, may review Department of Social Services records concerning an investigation into the abuse of a 6-year-old Crofton boy.
Ms. Moore is slated to be tried Nov. 16 for first-degree murder in the May shooting death of Dawn Renee Meyers, 31, of Ferndale.
Judge Thieme's order said the department's records may be reviewed in his chambers, but only by prosecution and defense attorneys in the case. He also gave attorneys for the Department of Social Services until Wednesday to contest the order.
Assistant State's Attorney Eugene M. Whissel II said he would recommend to attorneys for the Department of Social Services that they contest the order because the records are usually protected from disclosure by statute. He also said they are irrelevant to the case and would likely be inadmissible at trial.
"It's clearly a fishing expedition by the defense," he said.
But Assistant Public Defender Robert Waldman said the records may be used to corroborate the defendant's statements about child abuse complaints that had her so upset before the murder.
"It's important because [Ms. Moore] herself has been the victim of physical, emotional and sexual abuse going back to her childhood," Mr. Waldman said.
He said court approval for access to such records is not unusual.
According to court records, Ms. Moore walked into the Millersville Inn in the 8400 block of Veterans Highway -- across the street from county police headquarters -- at 12:30 p.m. May 31, confronted Ms. Meyers, pulled a .38-caliber handgun from her purse and fired four shots from about 10 feet away, two of which struck Ms. Meyers.
Ms. Moore then walked out of the restaurant, laid the gun on the parking lot and walked north on Veterans Highway, where officers picked her up a short time later.
Police said Ms. Moore told them she had just "killed a snake" and that with the death she felt as if she had killed off the four people in her life who had abused her. Ms. Meyers died about three hours later at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
According to court records, Ms. Moore had been undergoing psychiatric treatment and was unemployed and living alone in the boarding house on Rose Avenue at the time of the shooting.
Mr. Waldman said Ms. Moore is being held at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital because a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation determined she is suicidal.
He said his client had no criminal record and no history of violent behavior, but had a long history of being abused. "She has one of the most chaotic histories of anybody I have ever met," he said.
Her parents split up when she was young, she lived in several states during her childhood and has been hospitalized at least four times for psychiatric problems, Mr. Waldman said.
The alleged child abuse involved a 6-year-old son of one of Ms. Moore's friends, who now lives in Crofton.
The friend told The Sun that she had complained last spring to county police that Ms. Meyers had sexually abused her son while baby-sitting him in 1990. But she said the investigation stalled when the boy, who is in counseling, could not relate the story of the alleged abuse to police.
The woman said Ms. Moore was aware of the allegations of abuse and was extremely upset about them.
Police said Ms. Moore apparently had complained at least twice about Ms. Meyers to police and to the Department of Social Services.