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Baltimore mother found guilty in 2014 death of son at troubled group home

The Baltimore Sun

A Baltimore woman was found guilty Tuesday of manslaughter and child abuse for fatally injuring her then-3-year-old son, who died about six years after she slapped him off of a bunk bed.

Tamekia Martin, 38, is facing 40 years in prison following a jury conviction Tuesday in the 2014 death of her son Damaud Martin, according to the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office.

Prosecutors said that in 2008 Martin slapped Damaud while he sat atop a bunk bed, causing him to fall off the bed and strike his head on a nearby television stand. Several other children present for the incident told police that Damaud cried and collapsed to the ground shortly after the attack.

Damaud remained in a coma-like state until July 2014, when he died at a state-licensed group home in Anne Arundel County that regulators were in the process of closing down for multiple problems, raising questions about his care, The Baltimore Sun reported at the time. A medical examiner later ruled Damaud’s death a homicide as a result of traumatic brain injuries he received in 2008.

The verdict Tuesday marks the second time Martin has faced charges related to Damaud’s injuries. In 2009, she received a 15-year suspended sentence and probation in response to one count of first-degree child abuse.

Investigators said Martin consistently denied fault, telling detectives multiple stories about how her son was injured. A group home staffer overheard her whispering to her son “I’m so sorry I hurt you,” according to the state’s attorney’s office.

“As a mother, this case is especially heartbreaking, and I can’t fathom how a parent could inflict such harm on their child,” said State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby in the release. “Any mother who callously harms their child and turns their back on them as they cry out for help is a person who deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and removed from society.”

Following Damaud’s death, an investigation by The Baltimore Sun revealed that state officials were unaware of reports of abuse and neglect made to Anne Arundel County police on behalf of foster children living at the Laurel-area group home operated by LifeLine Inc.

State health officials launched their own investigation into whether Damaud received adequate care while living at the home, finding serious violations there but nothing that contributed to Damaud's death.

Baltimore Sun reporters Doug Donovan and Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

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