Baltimore girl, 14, charged as an adult with murder and held without bail

By Justin Fenton and Liz F. Kay
Baltimore Sun
Thursday, August 26, 2010

The two Honduran men sitting on the front steps of a Southeast Baltimore rowhouse couldn't help but chuckle at the sight of a 14-year-old girl clutching a silver revolver and demanding money.

But Arteesha Holt wasn't like most girls her age. A tomboy who liked playing football and basketball, relatives said she also had an explosive temper and was prone to uncontrollable outbursts.

Once, she slung an ashtray across her family's home, tore pictures from the wall and kicked out a heating vent, all because her infant nephew stepped on a bowl of strawberries. The girl's mother says she tried repeatedly to get her daughter help through the juvenile justice system, to no avail.

But the men enjoying the evening of Aug. 13 didn't know all that. So they laughed. And, police say, the seventh-grader pulled the trigger, striking both in the head and killing Jose Rodolfo Gonzalez-Coreas, 43.

Holt was arrested late Tuesday and charged as an adult with first-degree murder. District Court Judge Theodore B. Oshrine ordered her held without bond, following prosecutors' appeals that she is a "danger to the community."

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi described the shooting as "heinous."

"It speaks to the guns that are out there and the frustrations we in law enforcement have at trying to deal with all this," he said.

Holt's 18-year-old brother, Shawn Palmer, has been charged with being an accomplice to murder. Police say he helped Holt escape and took her silver .32-caliber revolver.

The girl's mother, Raichelle Johnson, 39, said she was horrified by the allegations. She said she worried for her daughter and sought help but never anticipated "in a million years" the situation she faces now.

"I don't condone my child taking a life -- if she took this man's life, then she needs to be prosecuted," Johnson said.

Her mother said Holt's rage often got bottled up, erupting with terrifying results.

"Arteesha is . . . " Johnson paused, searching for the right words. "Unstable."

The girl frequently expressed suicidal thoughts, she said, and over the past two years often hit the streets when she got frustrated, bouncing between relatives.

The shooting occurred in the 100 block of N. Linwood Avenue. Police said an officer was flagged down by Wilmer Bonilla, 26, whose head was grazed by a bullet. The officer found Gonzalez-Coreas lying on the steps of a rowhouse with a gunshot wound to the head.

Gonzalez-Coreas was rushed to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was pronounced dead Aug. 20.

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