- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 11, 2004

BALTIMORE — The 12-year-old girl beaten to near death by a group of children at a birthday party has regained consciousness after 12 days in a coma, and her condition was upgraded yesterday from critical to stable.

Doctors at Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital are planning to transfer Nicole Townes, who emerged from the coma Wednesday night, to another medical center for rehabilitation. She received severe head injuries when, according to police, about six children repeatedly stomped, kicked and punched her in the head because another girl’s boyfriend kissed her on a dare.

“She is breathing on her own and she is responsive,” said Detective Donny Moses of the Baltimore Police Department. Another police officer familiar with the case said the improvements in Nicole’s condition were nothing short of miraculous.

Two women who hosted the party and encouraged the children to carry out the attack are charged with attempted first-degree murder and first- and second-degree assault, according to court documents. They are being held in jail without bond.

The women are Monique Baldwin, 36, who is the mother of the birthday girl and a resident of the Loudoun Avenue home in which the party took place, and Erin Baldwin, 20, of the 2500 block of West Baltimore Street, who was at the party.

Police said the women are related, but the nature of that relationship is not clear.

Monique Baldwin’s 14-year-old daughter is charged as an adult on the same counts and her 13-year-old daughter is charged as a juvenile in connection with the attack. The names of the girls are being withheld because of their ages.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Patricia Coats Jessamy is considering assault charges against one of the women’s 7-year-old son, who was the youngest participant in the brutal, 30-minute attack during which Nicole did not fight back as the children took turns punching and kicking her.

According to the court documents, the boy was permitted to jump on Nicole and pummel her after she fell to the floor.

“Don’t nobody stop him. He has to let his frustration out,” the boy’s mother said, according to the documents.

A spokesman for Mrs. Jessamy, Joseph A. Sviatko, said prosecutors are considering adult and juvenile charges against the boy, though adult charges seem unlikely.

“Generally speaking, there is a presumption that a 7-year-old doesn’t have the appropriate mental capacity to be charged as an adult,” Mr. Sviatko said. “But this is an awful case. There is no way around that.”

Residents of the Westside neighborhood — the 400 block of Lyndhurst Street where Nicole lives, and the 500 block of Loudoun Avenue where the birthday party took place — said yesterday they were shocked but not surprised by the violence. One resident said the children roam the streets like animals and their parents do nothing to control them.

“That’s how kids are these days,” said Ronald Smith, 55, who lives on the same block as one of the jailed women. “They attack you like a pack of wolves. Why do you think kids are out until 2 or 3 in the morning? A lot of the parents don’t care about their kids.”

Court papers state the attack was provoked when the boyfriend of Monique Baldwin’s 14-year-old daughter kissed Nicole. Miss Baldwin then instructed her two daughters to “handle your business.”

The girls began beating Nicole and her 11-year-old sister, Brenda Bailey, the documents say.

Miss Baldwin’s daughter “began to punch Nicole in the face, knocking her to the kitchen floor, where she then kicked and stomped on her head several times. Monique Baldwin then ordered the girls to take ‘them’ into the dining room because they were causing the refrigerator to be moved from the wall,” stated the charging documents.

Nicole’s and Brenda’s guardian, Kenya Keene, 25, also of the 400 block of Lyndhurst Street, was not at the party at the time of the attack. But she was arrested and charged with second-degree assault, among other things, for an unrelated assault on Brenda earlier the same day.

Police said the three women were arrested Monday after hospital workers deemed Nicole’s injuries inconsistent with claims made by Monique Baldwin and Erin Baldwin that Nicole fell and hit her head against a wall.

An anonymous caller told hospital officials that the girl had been beaten, police said.

Miss Keene remained jailed yesterday in lieu of $35,000 bail.

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