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Woman accused in death of baby girl fires her lawyers

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A North Laurel day care provider accused of shaking to death a 15-month-old girl in her care officially fired her attorneys yesterday, the day her trial on murder charges was scheduled to start.

Kathleen A. Butcher, 37, had appeared in Howard County Circuit Court on Sept. 19 to explain why she no longer wanted lawyers Margaret A. Mead and Arch McFadden to represent her, a conflict referred to in court papers in terms more common to divorce proceedings - "irreconcilable differences."

Yesterday, Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr. granted a motion allowing Butcher, accused of killing Alexa Shearer in November 1999, to replace Mead and McFadden with Columbia lawyer Joel M. Abramson. The trial was continued to Feb. 20.

Prosecutors raised objections to the delay, and Alexa's family said later that they were upset by the turn of events in a system they contend does not take into account the needs of the families of victims.

Alexa died Nov. 18, two days after police called to the 9400 block of Sewall Ave. found Butcher performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the baby. A medical examiner ruled her death a homicide and said Alexa died from violent shaking and a "non-accidental impact blow to her head," according to the charging documents.

Butcher was charged in early December with second-degree murder. She is free on bail.

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