Boy, 14, charged as adult in hammer attack on grandmother

The 14-year-old boy who Baltimore police say confessed to beating his grandmother with a hammer has been charged as an adult with attempted first-degree murder, according to court records.

At his bail review Friday morning, Hassanhii Garrett sat in the front row wearing a teal school shirt with his hands shackled behind him. At 5 feet 3 inches tall, he could pass for a boy several years younger.

When a judge read the charges against him, a detainee in his 60s who was sitting behind the boy looked at him and shook his head in disbelief. The boy, a ninth-grader with no previous contacts with the criminal justice system, stared at the ground and did not react throughout the hearing.

He told police that he repeatedly struck his 66-year-old grandmother, Shirley Garrett, in the head with a hammer after he became angry at her while getting ready for school. He called 911, and police responding to the home in the 800 block of E. 34th St. found her face-down on the floor in a pool of blood.

Police said Friday afternoon that she was in critical condition.

The details of the crime contrast sharply with the cozy Waverly community where the family lived. The home is down the block from an elementary school, across from a recreational center where children were running and playing, and next to the former Memorial Stadium site, which has been remade with a playground. A 2005 Sun article included a photo showing Garrett, then a third-grader, addressing officials and reporters at the groundbreaking for the playground.

No one answered the door at his home, and a neighbor declined to comment.

Officers responding to the scene early Thursday found a white sheet stained with blood and a hammer on the floor. Blood was spattered on the floor, walls and furniture in the room, and in the hallway between the bedroom and the bathroom.

"There were obvious signs of a struggle throughout the victim's bedroom," officers wrote in charging documents.

In an interview with detectives at the Juvenile Justice Center, the boy told police that he was eating breakfast when he became angry over the way his grandmother had been treating him, records show. He said he retrieved a hammer and struck her in the head while she was sleeping.

He said she tried to get away after being hit twice, then fell face-first into a mirror in the bedroom and onto the floor, according to records. He said he then hit her with a closed fist four times.

He called 911 "one to three minutes" later, records show.

Garrett, who will turn 15 in October, was charged Friday with attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and having a dangerous weapon with intent to injure.

At the bail review hearing, the boy looked at the floor and nervously tapped his right leg. At times, he closed his eyes and kept them shut for minutes at a time. He stood up when the judge asked the "three gentlemen on the bench" to rise.

A public defender could be overheard at a bench conference saying the boy got A's and B's in school and may have an undiagnosed psychiatric condition. He requested a suicide evaluation, saying he was concerned "about his stability."

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