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Girl, 14, charged as adult in Southwest Baltimore stabbing

A 14-year-old girl is being held as an adult after being charged with attempted first-degree murder in connection with a serious stabbing in Southwest Baltimore.

Arica Leonard, who was born in 1999 and turns 15 next month, was being held in the juvenile unit of the women's detention center — one of just two girls being held there, officials said. She is accused of stabbing a female in the back of the head with a "long knife" during a fight last week, court records show.

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The victim suffered three cuts to the back of her head that required five staples and four stitches, police wrote in charging documents.

In Maryland, youth charged with attempted first-degree murder and other offenses that carry a possible maximum penalty of life in prison are automatically charged as adults. They can petition the court to have the case waived to the juvenile system.

Leonard was initially held without bond by a District Court commissioner, but at a bail review a District Court judge set bail at $250,000, court records show. She remained held Monday night.

Her mother, Loretta Lavine, sat in the lobby of Central Booking awaiting her daughter's first appearance in court.

"I'm devastated," Lavine said. "She's my youngest child. I'm 51, and I'm trying to raise my baby doll, and this city isn't as pretty as these [elected] officials say it is."

She said she has been told that Arica, who she acknowledged has been in trouble in the past, and her friends had been in a dispute with another group they were trying to cut ties with. She said while she worries for her daughter in confinement, she may be even more worried about the possibility of someone coming after her if she were to be released.

"In a way, I fear for Arica getting back out," Lavine said.

The stabbing occurred about 10:40 p.m. Thursday in the 1300 block of W. Lombard St. An officer on foot patrol in the area heard screaming and saw the victim lying on her back bleeding from the back of her head, the officers wrote in court papers.

The victim told police she had attempted to break up a fight between a female and a male, and that Leonard was among the onlookers. Leonard and the victim had been involved in an "unknown, ongoing dispute for days" before, the documents said.

Leonard swung at the victim with a closed fist and grabbed her hair, and during a struggle the girl produced a long knife with a curved tip and black handle, according to court papers. Leonard began swinging the knife at the victim, yelling, "I'll kill you," police said.

A mutual friend intervened by grabbing the girl's wrists "to prevent her from thrusting the knife deeper into the head" of the victim, police said. She was able to pull the knife away and throw it into the street. But police did not recover the weapon.

Police said two different sources identified the girl as the attacker through photo lineups.

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