One of the teenagers who accepted partial responsibility for the near-fatal attack of a 12-year-old girl at a West Baltimore birthday party was sentenced yesterday to live in a group therapy home for a beating described by the juvenile judge as "bloodlust."
"I've seen murders and attempted murders. But the way this was done is the most heinous thing I can think of," said Juvenile Judge Edward R.K. Hargadon, who sentenced the 14-year-old girl. "The only thing that comes into my mind is bloodlust."
The teen, whose name is being withheld because she is a juvenile, apologized in court to the victim, Nicole Ashley Townes. Nicole was attacked in a February assault in which several women and girls punched, hit and stomped her into a coma.
"What I did was wrong, and I feel horrible about it," the girl read from a letter. "Every time I think about it, I cry. I pray that Nicole gets better."
The teen entered the equivalent of a guilty plea last month to two counts of second-degree assault in exchange for prosecutors' dropping more serious charges. She is now committed to the Department of Juvenile Services.
Nicole, who was a guest at the party, was in a coma for three weeks. Authorities believe she has permanent brain damage. She remains hospitalized.
As part of yesterday's sentence, the teen must volunteer for 200 hours at a hospital or facility that treats brain-damaged patients. She also must write a letter of apology and an essay to the judge about the negative effects of violent behavior. Hargadon said he wants an essay from her every two months to monitor her progress.
The girl will have psychiatric monitoring in a group home with other troubled teens for no longer than three years. Her lawyer, Roland Walker, said he believes she will be released in a year as long as she adheres to the rules and is not "defiant."
A 13-year-old girl, who also admitted to being part of the attack, was not sentenced yesterday because her pre-sentence investigation was not complete.
Five others have been charged in the incident and are awaiting trial. They include three adults: Monique Baldwin, 36; her cousin Erin Baldwin, 20; and Kenya Keene, 24, who lived with Nicole. Two teenagers were charged as adults: Temprest Baldwin, 14, who is Monique Baldwin's niece, and Seletta Broaddus, 15, another guest at the party.
Juveniles 13 or younger charged with attempted first-degree murder in Maryland are sent to the juvenile system. Those 14 and older are charged as adults. The 14-year-old sentenced yesterday was 13 at the time of the attack.
Details of the 14-year-old's life emerged in court yesterday in testimony from Denise Miller Smith, an investigator for the Department of Juvenile Services. Smith said that the girl had been victimized starting when she was 8 years old. Later, her lawyer said she had been sexually assaulted.
Walker said his client felt pressured by an adult to join in the Feb. 28 attack, which prosecutor Carrie Bland said began when a boy at the party kissed Nicole. Bland said the kiss enraged Monique Baldwin, the party host, who told her niece to "handle your business," at which point the girl and Monique Baldwin's daughter began to beat Nicole and her sister Brenda Bailey. Brenda, 11, suffered minor injuries.