|Topie: Nicole Edmonds, 17; murdered by Lataye S. King, 16, & Kendrick McCain, 15
|December 7th, 2007 02:15 AM
Girl, 17, is slain leaving light rail
She, brother were returning from work
By Gus G. Sentementes
Sara Neufeld contributed to this article.
November 8, 2006
The doors of the light rail train opened, and Nicole Edmonds and her younger brother stepped out into the chilly West Baltimore night, headed for a nearby bus stop. Four other passengers got off and followed.
The siblings, who had just finished the late shift at a Wendy's restaurant in Linthicum early yesterday, were still in their uniforms. They never made it to their bus.Two of the men who followed them jumped Edmonds' 16-year-old brother and pinned him to the ground near the train stop, near the Interstate 83 overpass. Nicole Edmonds, 17, ran, and the other two - a man and a woman - chased her down and stabbed her.
As the attackers fled, her brother ran to her and found her lying motionless on the ground, her Wendy's hat nearby. Police and paramedics arrived about 12:30 a.m. and took Nicole to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where police said she died a half-hour later.
Quentin Edmonds, an older brother, said yesterday that his family was trying to deal with the shock of his sister's violent death. He described her as someone who loved to cook in her spare time, and sang and danced at an East Baltimore church where their father was pastor.
"My parents have eight kids and this is the first one that they've lost," said Edmonds, who is 24. "I've got to keep it together. Right now, I'm the rock. Right now, we're making funeral arrangements. I need to stay focused.
"We're coming together," he said. "We're coping the best we can."
Their parents had taken Nicole and her younger brother out of Frederick Douglass High School last year because they feared for their safety inside one of the city's more troubled schools, Quentin Edmonds said. She was being home-schooled and had gotten a job at the Wendy's in Anne Arundel County about three months ago.
The teenagers applied to other jobs closer to home in the city, but the suburban Wendy's was the only one that got back to them with an offer.
Quentin said his younger brother recalls the assailants talking quietly and telling each other that they were alone on the light rail. "From what I understand, they kept saying to each other, `We're the only ones left,'" he said.
Matt Jablow, a city police spokesman, said the attackers were young adults or teenagers, and that Nicole Edmonds was a "completely innocent victim." Police were still trying to determine a motive in the attack.
"This is a terrible tragedy, and we will do everything in our power to find the people responsible for her death," Jablow said.
Nicole Edmonds and her brother started working at the Wendy's during the summer. Melanie Gamble, the manager, said workers there were stunned at the news of her death.
Gamble said the girl was a pleasant, quiet worker on the night shift. She and her brother worked as cashiers or in other positions, she said. "She was quiet, real quiet," Gamble said. "The only person she really talked to at work was her brother. She worked at night all the time because they do home-school."
"We're just real, real, real shocked," she said. "It's crazy."
Quentin Edmonds said his parents pulled his sister and brother out of Frederick Douglass last year because it was "getting too risky."
The high school, the alma mater of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and the entertainer Cab Calloway, was once a center of pride for West Baltimore, but it has deteriorated significantly over the past several years.
Last academic year, Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele visited Douglass and told its students they had been failed, proposing that management of the school be turned over to neighboring Coppin State University. The school was also one of 11 in the city targeted by the state last spring for outside takeovers. City school system officials say they are spending this school year making plans to overhaul Douglass.
Last month, a 14-year-old boy was shot in the back on school grounds during halftime at a football game.
Nicole Edmonds was the city's 235th homicide victim this year. During the same period last year, the city had 234 homicide victims, according to police figures.
"I just want her life to mean something, I want her death to mean something," said Quentin Edmonds in a telephone interview, as friends and family paid visits to their West Baltimore home last night.
"If we can just stop this foolishness, stop the violence. ... I just want the youth of Baltimore City just to wake up," he said. "There's too much hurt, there's too much pain. She's got seven brothers and sisters who are mourning. It's just senseless. Everybody who knows Nicky knows she wouldn't hurt nobody.
"She was one of the best young people in Baltimore."
|December 7th, 2007 02:18 AM
Nikki's death stands out amid blur of statistics
November 14, 2006
The tributes flowed, from intimates and strangers alike, and some were read at Nicole Edmonds' funeral this weekend. Appreciative murmurs rippled through the mourners at the east-side church when a particularly famous name followed the "sincerely," like Martin O'Malley, the newly elected governor, or Ben Cardin, the just-minted U.S. senator.
Early on the morning of Election Day last week, when for the next 24 hours some of us were going to be breathlessly consumed by the political fortunes of O'Malley, Cardin and other candidates, "Nikki" Edmonds, 17, was fatally stabbed after getting off the light rail at West North Avenue.
In the numbing blur of Baltimore's murder statistics, she was No. 235, the slaying that would push the toll past the 234 who were killed by the same time last year. But it isn't statistics that set her death above the blur that shrouds most city murders, but rather that she was, as the police have been saying, "a completely innocent victim."
Living here, you concede a certain amount of crime. You don't excessively trouble yourself when one drug dealer or gang member or bad guy kills another, and that's how you keep Baltimore's seemingly intractable homicide rate at a remove.
And then someone like Edmonds is killed, and it is heart-sickening on so many levels there's no way to file it away under your mental index of typical drug-corner murder. She was, by her family's account, a hard-working, church-going young woman, the fourth of eight children. Her parents -- her father is a pastor, her mother works for a credit union -- had taken Nikki and her 16-year-old brother Marcus out of Frederick Douglass High School last year because it was too dangerous, and were home-schooling them.
Nikki and Marcus got jobs together at a Wendy's in Linthicum, and were returning on the light rail from a late shift when four fellow passengers followed them off at their stop. Two of them jumped and held Marcus down, while the other two ran after Nikki and stabbed her. She was taken to Shock Trauma, where she died.
The siblings weren't robbed, police say, and they didn't know their attackers. The murder of Nikki stands in stark contrast to the kind of youth crime that police generally deal with, in which the perpetrators and victims have had multiple juvenile arrests.
This year has been a particularly deadly one for young people, compared with last year. Nikki was the 20th homicide victim 17 years old or younger this year, compared with 13 in 2005 -- although police say the murder rate for that age group is still on a downward trend when you look at what was going on five and more years ago. Still, police say, they have a number of initiatives under way -- from formulating an anti-gang strategy, to trying to stem the tide of juvenile drug dealing, to enforcing the curfew to get kids off the streets -- to deal with youth crime and the violent toll that it takes.
Nikki Edmonds wasn't part of that world, according to her family -- she was active in her church, she was close to her siblings and her parents, said an older brother, Quentin, who has taken up the mantle of spokesman for the bereaved family. She was out late at night not because she was hanging with her friends; she was coming home from work with her brother.
She wasn't part of that world, and yet now, in death she is thrust into it. She becomes another statistic, another incident in the city's pathology report. It seems so unjust a fate for a girl Quentin describes as a jokester, a laugher, the sister who liked to cook so much that she took over making most of the family's Thanksgiving dinner last year.
On Saturday, it was standing room only at Nikki's funeral at Community Church of Christ. There, in a gathering both mournful and joyous -- the Edmonds family's goal was to celebrate her life -- about 250 family and friends sought comfort in song and prayer.
"Let not your heart be troubled," went one of the readings.
And yet, how can it not be?
Later that day, about a mile east of where Nikki's family and friends were giving her a rousing "home-going" service, police found the body of another young person, a 16-year-old boy, dead from multiple gunshot wounds.
|December 7th, 2007 02:23 AM
8th-grader charged in girl's killing
She was fatally stabbed Nov. 7 walking from light rail station
By Gus G. Sentementes and Annie Linskey
November 18, 2006
An eighth-grade boy was in jail yesterday and other youths were being sought in the death of a teenage girl who was chased down and stabbed after getting off a light rail train in Baltimore.
The girl, Nicole "Nikki" Edmonds, 17, and her brother had been coming home from their job at a Wendy's in Anne Arundel County and were still wearing their uniforms when they were attacked shortly after midnight Nov. 7.Four people - three males and a female - followed the siblings off the train and across the platform at the West North Avenue station, according to police charging documents. Two assailants threw Edmonds' brother to the ground and pulled his jacket over his head, while the other two chased the girl under a Jones Falls Expressway overpass, where police say she was caught and stabbed in the upper body. The brother was not injured.
Baltimore homicide detectives arrested the suspect Thursday night after working virtually nonstop since the killing of Edmonds, a promising young teen whose parents had pulled her out of a city high school because they thought it was too dangerous and were home-schooling her.
Charging documents filed in court identified the suspect as Kendrick Dana McCain, 15, who lives in the city's Winston-Govans neighborhood in North Baltimore and is a student at Winston Middle School.
Kendrick Dana McCain
The youth, who faces trial as an adult, was charged with first-degree murder, first-degree assault and use of a deadly weapon. He was being held without bail yesterday and a court hearing is scheduled Monday.
Baltimore police, who were scouring the city for additional suspects, would not comment on the arrest yesterday. The charging documents contain few details and do not offer a motive.
Edmonds' killing stoked widespread concerns over safety on the light rail system and sadness over the seemingly senseless death of another city teenager.
Reached at home by telephone, the girl's father, Wayne Edmonds, said he was grateful for the outpouring of support that his family had received.
But Edmonds, who is the pastor at Tabernacle Church of Deliverance in East Baltimore, declined to comment until police arrested all the suspects.
"As of right now, I'm just waiting," he said.
The suspect's young cousin answered the door yesterday at his address on McCabe Avenue, east of York Road.
A teenage girl who identified herself as a cousin declined to comment. Reached by phone, the suspect's guardian and aunt, Debbie McCain, also declined to comment.
Young adults hanging out in the neighborhood yesterday afternoon said they had heard about the killing on the news. They described McCain as big and as someone who got into fights. Court records list him as 6 feet tall, weighing 159 lbs. The children in the neighborhood said he keeps his hair short and wears boots.
"He used to go to school," said Michael James, 20, who lives nearby. "He used to get beat up." James said McCain didn't hang out that much with the neighborhood boys. He had moved in with his aunt about three years ago, James said.
Marvin Johnson, 15, stood on his porch and reacted with surprise when he learned about the arrest of the adolescent he described as his "homeboy." "I can't believe Kendrick is going out like that!" he said. Johnson said he had seen McCain the day he was arrested.
Moesha Johnson, a girl who lives in the same neighborhood as McCain, said they were in the same class at Winston Middle School. "He don't look like the person who could do it," she said, surprised that her classmate had been arrested. She also said he rarely came to school.
The neighborhood - about 10 blocks from the upscale shops and restaurants at Belvedere Square - appears to be struggling. One resident, Jimmy Thomas, said: "It can be vicious at night." The people he grew up with have moved out, he said.
Some of the homes, like McCain's, are neatly kept. But others are vacant with gang graffiti scrawled on the boards covering windows and doors.
Miles away, in West Baltimore's Walbrook neighborhood, the victim's family continues to grieve.
Nikki Edmonds was raised in a religious family, whose lives revolve around the church where her father is a pastor. Her brother, Quentin Edmonds, 24, a minister in the same church, gave a stirring eulogy at his sister's funeral at another east-side church last Saturday.
|December 7th, 2007 02:24 AM
||More than 250 people - friends, neighbors, relatives - hailing from East and West Baltimore and beyond, came to pay their respects during a rousing, spiritual ceremony.
Edmonds enjoyed cooking, singing and dancing. She sang with a church choir and was involved in other youth activities at the church. She had four brothers and three sisters.
"Nikki was a comedian at heart," her funeral program reads. "She liked to crack jokes, make people laugh, and loved to fall out laughing at her own jokes."
Nikki Edmonds and her brother, Marcus, who was with her the night of her death, attended Frederick Douglass High School until last year. But the school is one of the city's most troubled, and their parents decided to pull them out, in favor of home-schooling.
They live in a neighborhood that is not immune to violent crime. Yesterday afternoon, several men in a minivan shot at a man, striking him three times in the upper torso before speeding away, police said. The man stumbled off a sidewalk and collapsed in a small open field. Paramedics found him conscious and transported him to an area hospital.
Police detectives recovered shell casings - from a handgun and a shotgun - and a bag of suspected cocaine.
With such violence so close to their front door, the Edmonds had tried to protect their children, encouraging them to study during the day and work at night, relatives said. They started working at a Wendy's in Linthicum about three months ago.
Quentin, Nikki Edmonds' older brother, said they had applied for several jobs, but they didn't get much feedback and took the first offer they got.
Their work commute consisted of catching a bus near their West Baltimore rowhouse, to the West North Avenue light rail station. From there, they rode into Anne Arundel County, got off in Linthicum and walked to the restaurant.
The teens' commute took about an hour. And they usually traveled in their Wendy's uniforms.
Edmonds' killing was one of several serious incidents that authorities have had to contend with that occurred on or near light rail stations in the city.
Passengers at other stations, which are patrolled by Maryland Transit Administration Police, have been robbed on at least three occasions this month.
Undercover MTA police officers caught a robbery in progress last Saturday night, chased one of three suspects and fatally shot him after he allegedly pointed a gun at an officer, authorities said. The other suspects are being sought, authorities said.
Next year, MTA officials plan to install a network of hundreds of surveillance cameras. The system has advanced digital technology that is able to detect and focus on violent, erratic behavior, and alert police.
In the short term, MTA police officials said they have increased security patrols and surveillance at stations along the line, which runs through Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City and Baltimore County.
|December 7th, 2007 02:27 AM
Girl gets life term in fatal light rail stabbing
She demanded another teen's cell phone, then stabbed and left her for dead
By Gus G. Sentementes
December 6, 2007
A teenage girl was sentenced Thursday to life in prison with all but 25 years suspended for chasing down and fatally stabbing another girl after the two got into an argument over a cell phone aboard a light rail train last year in Baltimore.
Lataye S. King, who is now 17, entered an Alford plea on charges of first-degree murder and second-degree assault in the attack on Nicole "Nikki" Edmonds, who was returning home from work at a fast-food restaurant when she was killed.
In an Alford Plea, the accused doesn't formally admit guilt but concedes the state has enough evidence for a conviction.
Lataye S. King
The Circuit Court judge said King can be considered for the Patuxent Institution for psychiatric care.
Kendrick McCain, who was 15 when the stabbing occurred and had been charged with first-degree murder, accepted a deal and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and second-degree assault. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 4.
Speaking publicly for the first time about his anguish, Nikki's father, Wayne Edmonds, told Judge Martin P. Welch that he remembers taking in Nikki as a two-year-old foster child. He said he watched her grow into a young lady who worked hard, wanted to go to college and work with children, and loved to participate in church activities.
To the relatives of King, some of whom were sitting in court Thursday, Edmonds said: "I don't have any hard feelings to [your] family, because two families lose today."
Edmonds, pastor of an East Baltimore church, said he still misses his daughter, who used to play practical jokes and try to cheer him up until he laughed. "I'll miss that. ... there's nobody in my life who fulfills that right now."
|December 7th, 2007 02:29 AM
||Dispute over phone
The teenagers' paths crossed on a light rail train as it headed north through Baltimore on Nov. 7 of last year. Police said Nicole -- still wearing her Wendy's uniform from her shift at the Linthicum restaurant, was using her cell phone and that King wanted it.
King and McCain followed Nicole and her brother, Marcus, off the train at the North Avenue stop. They pulled the brother, Marcus Edmonds, down to the ground by his jacket. They then chased after his sister, threw her to the ground and -- according to another eyewitness -- King "pounced on her," said Assistant State's Attorney Paul O'Connor.
"It was Lataye King who stabbed Nicole Edmonds, not once, but twice," O'Connor said. Both wounds were to the chest. The pair then walked away, police said, with King eating a sandwich she had taken from the victim's purse.
The killing of Edmonds stood out in a city struggling with violence among juveniles. King and McCain were arrested about two weeks after Edmonds' slaying, were charged as adults and denied bail, and have been jailed at the city Detention Center since.
At Thursday's sentencing hearing, Welch permitted King to talk privately to her grand mother at the front of the court room for a few minutes, a rare allowance. They were not allowed to touch.
When Welch finally formally announced the life sentence, King's grandmother and another relative gasped "Good Lord!" in the court seats, and broke down in tears.
Initially, police detectives had believed that four people were involved in the assault, but witnesses came forward and provided police with information about King and McCain.
McCain also made incriminating statements about King's actions that night, according to prosecutors.
Both King and McCain came from challenging home environments. King, who wore a black-and-white top and gray slacks Thursday, resembled a typical high school student. But she had only finished the seventh grade and had been staying at various homes of relatives and friends across Baltimore before the stabbing.
McCain, a slender, six-foot tall boy, had been in and out of special education classes, skipped school frequently, and was living with an aunt in North Baltimore, in a neighborhood infested with gang activity.
Hours before the teenagers' fateful encounter on the light rail, McCain and King were returning from a club in South Baltimore called Paradox. Not able to get in, they jumped on the light rail to head home, and that's when they encountered Nicole and Marcus.
The victim's parents had pulled Nicole out of Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore the previous year because they feared for her safety. They opted to home-school the girl, who had her sights set on attending college.
"I just wanted to let you know," Wayne Edmonds told the judge Thursday, "that this young lady was an extraordinary young lady."