Mother Pleads Guilty to Death of 4-Year-Old Son

Baltimore resident Alicia Lawson pleaded guilty to first-degree child abuse that resulted in death on Aug. 9 in Baltimore City Circuit Court.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Lawson and her wife, Shateka Lawson, allegedly severely burned their four-year-old son in a scalding bath on July 23, 2019. Over the following nine days, the couple did not seek medical attention for the boy’s burns, claiming they were worried about losing custody due to past problems with Child Protective Services.

Although the women tried to treat the injuries themselves, the boy died on Aug. 1 in Alicia’s home. Alicia, 27, then reportedly left the body in a trash can 10 miles away.

Two days later, the women reported the boy missing to the police, but Alicia eventually confessed to investigators. 

Shateka, 47, claimed she found out about the boy’s death while talking to detectives.

On July 7, the prosecution offered both defendants a plea of life, suspending all but 30 years, with five years of probation for child abuse that resulted in death. At the time, the pair was still considering the offer.

On Monday, Alicia formally accepted the plea during reception court in Baltimore City Circuit Court. Her defense attorney, Gregory Fischer, had told the court on Aug. 2 that his client planned to take the offer.

During the hearing, Fischer said his client “accepts full responsibility” for her actions and would “do anything she could to go back in time and do things differently.”

According to the prosecution, there was a 95% chance that the boy would have survived if his mothers had sought medical treatment for him.

“She understands that she should have immediately taken him to the hospital,” Fischer told the court.

The boy’s “preventable death,” the prosecution said, was caused by dehydration, kidney failure, and a bacterial infection in his skin and lungs.

Fischer said Alicia feels “great remorse” and has been prescribed medication for anxiety and depression. He requested that the court recommend mental health treatment for his client, who, like her son, faced “abandonment, neglect, and trauma as a child,” he said.

Judge Melissa M. Phinn accepted Alicia’s guilty plea and recommended therapeutic services and educational programming for her.

Alicia and her wife both face two charges of first-degree child abuse that resulted in death, as well as one count each of second-degree murder, first-degree child abuse that caused severe physical injury, second-degree child abuse in custody, neglect of a minor, failure to report a child’s death, and giving a false statement to an officer. 

Shateka’s case is scheduled for trial on Feb. 1, 2022, with Judge Cynthia H. Jones presiding.

Judge Phinn also presided over another case of unintentional homicide during Monday’s proceedings. 

Baltimore resident Rashad Peartree is charged with involuntary manslaughter from an incident last year. 

According to Fox Baltimore, Peartree, 34, assaulted 60-year-old Louis Henson on the 500 block of Guilford Avenue on Feb. 18, 2020. Henson died of his injuries the next morning around 10:00 a.m.

On Monday, Peartree was offered a plea of 10 years, suspending all but seven, with five years of probation. Defense attorney Jonathan Kerr rejected the offer on his client’s behalf. 

Kerr made a counteroffer, which the prosecutor said is still being negotiated with the state. Judge Phinn scheduled the case to return to reception court on Aug. 24. 

Judge Phinn also presided over another manslaughter case on Monday, that of Baltimore resident Omar Holt. 

Holt, 36, is charged with vehicular manslaughter in connection to an incident on Aug. 31, 2019. He also faces six traffic violations and four charges of vehicular homicide while intoxicated. 

On Monday, he was offered a plea offer of 10 years, suspending all but seven, for vehicular manslaughter, and one year, to be served concurrently, for a traffic violation. 

Defense attorney Robert Cole said he is hoping to further negotiate the offer with the prosecution. The case is set to return to reception court on Aug. 30.

Follow this case