Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

Infant, toddlers among Baltimore homicide victims

A dozen children have died in Baltimore homicide wave, including an infant and 2 toddlers

The analysis of Baltimore's spike in homicides has largely focused on the months of May and July, whose tallies were among the highest since 1970.

But the nearly 200 killings so far this year mask another significant statistic: A dozen have been children under 18, and several were infants or toddlers caught in tragic circumstances.

In all of 2014, 15 juveniles were killed in Baltimore.

Among this year's victims was 2-year-old Tyleah Fenwick, who died April 25. In the second-floor bedroom of a rowhouse in Southwest Baltimore, the child lay beaten from head to toe, according to a police report.

The youngest victim in 2015 was 5-month-old Sina Masoodi, who was found unresponsive last month in the back seat of a car in the Market Street parking garage. The boy was discovered shortly after his mother, Sahar Pourrajabi, jumped to her death from the garage. The cause of the infant's death: asphyxiation.

The deaths of two other 2-year-olds were ruled homicides in June. Montez Parker was found not breathing on May 7 in the 3300 block of Mondawmin Ave. Leasia Carter died when her father allegedly left her strapped into a car seat in the back of a Lincoln Town Car on an 89-degree day; Wilbert Leon Carter was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and child abuse.

Carter is scheduled to be arraigned on Aug. 13, according to his public defender, Romel Showell.

Yet none of those homicides has been featured in the crime-fighting rallying cry from city leaders the way a 3-year-old's death last year from a stray bullet led to a citywide uproar.

"Sadly, we don't treat deaths at the hands of a loved one or family member the same way that we treat deaths due to street violence," said Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy & Research, in an email.

"But regardless of where the violence occurred or relationship between the victim and perpetrator, you have a tragic loss of life and many of the same social, cultural, and environmental factors at play."

Such factors could be at play in Fenwick's death: a mother going to work at 4 a.m. leaves her child with a live-in boyfriend who had a past temporary restraining order, according to police reports.

Police charged Bryant Lee Cain, the 28-year-old boyfriend, with first-degree murder — an allegation he denies.

Cain's lawyer, Paul Polansky, said his client did not murder Fenwick. He said Cain found the child, called 911 and then picked up the girl's mother, Chaneray Simmons, from work to take her to St. Agnes Hospital.

The police report states that Cain twice fled from authorities.

When paramedics arrived at the rowhouse in the 400 block of Furrow St., he handed the child to them and said, "She stopped breathing about 10 minutes ago and I don't know what happened," according to the police report. "Cain then fled the scene without providing any information to include the girl's name," the report said.

The statement of charges says paramedics took the girl to the hospital while he went to pick up Simmons. At the hospital, the statement says, "Cain dropped Ms. Simmons off and he drove off."

Police put out a notice over the radio and Cain was stopped.

Cain had been watching Fenwick after Simmons went to work, and was the only one home when paramedics found her body, the police report states.

The woman's relatives told police that Simmons had previously taken out a peace order against Cain, alleging that he physically abused her and her two children. Court records indicate that three weeks before Fenwick's death, a temporary peace order was filed against Cain, but it was dismissed April 10 when the petitioner failed to show up at the hearing.

Polansky said Cain did not flee and did everything he could to alert authorities to the girl's condition.

"It's a terrible, horrible crime," Polansky said. "But I think they have the wrong person for the death of this child."

He said Cain and Simmons were living in the house with the children, but Fenwick "had been taken care of by many different people."

Fenwick's memorial page on the Joseph H. Brown Funeral Home website lists her parents as Simmons and Troy Fenwick Jr. Neither could be reached for comment.

"Tyleah also known as 'Mama,' 'Leah,' 'Princess' or 'Snacks,'" the page states, "had a smile with the power to make any pain go away."

ddonovan@baltsun.com

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