A Baltimore woman was acquitted yesterday of charges of murdering her 18-month-old daughter last year.
Katrina Grimes, who spent more than a year in jail without bail while awaiting trial, was awaiting her release yesterday after a Baltimore Circuit Court jury cleared her of charges stemming from the murder of Shelby Marie Smith.
Ms. Grimes' former boyfriend, Arnett Frazier, pleaded guilty last week to second-degree murder in the girl's death in exchange for a sentence of not more than 25 years.
Shelby's body was found Aug. 24, 1992, in a plastic bag on the porch of Ms. Grimes' Reservoir Hill home.
Frazier, whose fingerprints were found on the bag, testified in Baltimore Circuit Court that Ms. Grimes killed the child, who had been beaten and strangled.
Bridget Shepherd, an assistant public defender representing Ms. Grimes, told the jury in her closing argument that Frazier should not be believed because his story was wildly inconsistent. She also said that physical evidence suggested that he removed the baby from the home in the 900 block of Brooks Lane and killed her elsewhere before depositing the body on the porch.
The defense lawyer suggested to the jury that Frazier may have mistakenly taken Shelby from the home. She said he may have meant to take another girl he had been accused of fathering.
Ms. Shepherd, who rested her case without calling any witnesses, accused city homicide detectives of charging Ms. Grimes because she lived in shocking poverty. "They decided if someone could live like that, they're capable of murder," she said.
In arguing that the jury should convict Ms. Grimes, prosecutor Michael Flannery noted that claims made by the woman's family that someone apparently broke into the home through a window should not be believed because dust and cobwebs on the window sill were undisturbed. He also told the jury that Ms. Grimes tried to elude police by climbing out an upstairs window.
The jury deliberated for a little more than three hours before reaching its verdict. Juror Nancy Egan said the jury concluded that someone must have let Frazier into the house, but they could not be certain who did so.
Ms. Grimes hugged her lawyer and wept when the verdict was announced. Afterward, she said that she was looking forward to being reunited with her 1-year-old daughter and a 4-month-old son, born while she was in jail, who are in the care of her mother."
"Glad I'm going home," she said.
Frazier, 25, is to be sentenced Dec. 6.