- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A Prince George’s County judge yesterday ordered a woman held without bond, although she is charged only with misdemeanors after her five young sons and a dog were found unattended in their fetid New Carrollton home.

“The allegations are shocking, shocking, shocking,” said District Court Judge Jean S. Baron. “I’m going to put her in a no-bond status.”

Dressed in a pink jail suit, Amara N. Eden, 31, a Nigerian immigrant, fidgeted as she appeared during the 15-minute hearing in Upper Marlboro via video hookup from the county jail.

Afterward, State’s Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said the investigation is continuing and more serious charges, such as child abuse, which could result in sentences of 15 to 25 years in prison, could be filed.

“I absolutely agree with the judge’s decision that she should be held without bond,” Mr. Ivey said, adding that he thinks the Maryland legislature should revise child-neglect laws to make punishment more severe.

Ms. Eden, whose marital status is unknown to officials, was arrested early Sunday after New Carrollton police found the boys, ages 6 months to 6 years, in a filthy, stinking, cluttered basement apartment in the 6700 block of Topton Street.

At 12:30 a.m., a pan of food was burning on a stove. The boys were together on a bed that stunk of urine and feces. A mixed-breed dog was tied with a large chain in the living room that was littered with animal waste.

All about were broken furniture and other items. Dirty dishes and old food were in the kitchen, which was crawling with roaches. Some food was found in the refrigerator, but it was rotting, according to charging documents.

The boys were taken to Prince George’s Hospital Center for examination and then placed in child care residences. The youngest, 6-month-old Ilan Eden, has cystic fibrosis.

Their mother was called at the D.C. health care facility where she worked each night from 10 p.m. until 8 a.m. She was arrested soon after she returned at 1:43 a.m. to the basement apartment and, according to charging documents, said that if she had known she was going to be arrested, she would not have returned to the apartment and “would have gone someplace to commit suicide.”

The possibility of suicide was another reason Judge Baron gave for ordering Ms. Eden to be held without bail until her June 4 trial.

Assistant Public Defender Brendon Callahan had urged that Ms. Eden be allowed to leave jail to visit her children, which would be permitted by liberal visitation rights obtained for her. He pointed out that conviction on the five charges involving her children and the two charges involving the dog could result in about 290 days in jail.

“I hate to see her do her sentences prior to a trial,” Mr. Callahan said. “There are no previous convictions whatsoever. … She’s not going anywhere without her children.”

Mr. Callahan, who first met Ms. Eden yesterday morning, was uncertain how long she has lived in the United States, what her legal status is and whether she has a passport. But, even with those possibilities, he emphasized, “She is not a flight risk. She would not leave without her children.”

After yesterday’s hearing, prosecutors and defense attorneys could not answer many questions about the Eden family, including: Is there one father for all five boys? Is the father in the United States? Were the boys born in the United States?

Mr. Ivey said the misdemeanor charges were filed because the specifics involving child abuse and endangerment charges haven’t been answered.

“It depends on whether there are physical injuries,” he said, which could result in more severe penalties. “We are looking at other charges.”

Reports indicate the Eden family has lived in the New Carrollton apartment for at least two years. The landlords, Azmat and Mohammed Asif, said Ms. Eden had not paid her $500 rent for six months.

New Carrollton Police Chief David Rice expressed complete disgust with the situation and padlocked the doors of the house while investigations continue, including into rental arrangements.

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