A 25-year-old Woodbridge woman who police said was savagely beaten by two teenage girls after a traffic dispute died of her injuries yesterday.
Natalie Giles Davis died at 5:24 p.m. at Inova Fairfax Hospital, two days after one teenager allegedly pounded Davis's head repeatedly into the sidewalk and the other allegedly kicked her in the head as she lay on the ground.
Prince William Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert said he would move to elevate the charges against the two suspects to murder. Teresa Hattie Dixon, 18, of the Alexandria area of Fairfax County, and a 16-year-old Woodbridge girl were charged with aggravated malicious wounding after Tuesday's beating.
Police did not release the 16-year-old's name because she is a juvenile, but Ebert said that he hopes to charge her as an adult after the charges are upgraded to murder. He said he would present a murder charge against Dixon directly to the grand jury, which meets on Tuesday.
"It has been a tragic case from the start," Ebert said. "We have from the start thought that the victim likely would die and that there would likely be a murder charge."
Dixon has been arrested previously in Fairfax County as a runaway and on a charge of destruction of property, according to court records. She graduated from Chantilly High School last month and had worked at the Fairfax Village Day School until graduation, her friends said yesterday.
Friends and school sources said the 16-year-old attended Pennington High School, an alternative school in Prince William County for students with behavioral or academic problems, before being expelled in January for fighting.
Police said the Tuesday night incident began when Davis, heading to a church event in her aunt's car with her two young children and other relatives, yelled at a group of teenagers whose car was partially blocking the road near Bentley Circle and Rollingwood Drive in Woodbridge. Davis's aunt maneuvered around them and drove off, Chinn said, and the teenagers jumped in their car and chased Davis's group for about half a block.
According to police, Davis got out of the car and into a fight with the 16-year-old, who grabbed her by the hair and beat her head into the pavement. Police allege that Dixon entered the fight and stomped Davis on the head after she was already on the ground.
Yesterday, friends and relatives of the two alleged attackers said that Davis instigated the fight and that the girls fought in self-defense.
"After the people in the car were honking for us to get out of the way, the woman leaned out of the window and told us to 'get the hell out of the road,' " said a close friend of the two teenagers, who spoke on condition her name not be published. "Then she said that she would be back for us, that she would come for us. If she wouldn't have stuck her head out, none of this would have happened."
The friend said that after the teenagers chased down Davis and her family, Davis got out of the car and confronted the 16-year-old, hitting her across the jaw.
"They tangled, and a few punches flew, then she was taken down," the friend said, adding that the 16-year-old then slammed Davis into the pavement. "My friend had been hit and was just defending herself."
The friends and relatives of the suspects said that Dixon then ran up the street from behind the cars and kicked Davis once in the face with her bare foot. In a criminal complaint filed in Prince William General District Court, Detective Richard Leonard wrote that Dixon "admitted to having kicked the victim in the head after she had fallen to the ground."
Kenneth Goffigin, Dixon's stepfather, who spoke to Dixon after she was arrested, said his stepdaughter "was not in the fight" and ran to the scene to protect her friend. "She tells me she did not do anything that would have worsened that woman's injuries," Goffigin said. "She's a nice girl, not at all like she has been portrayed."
Natasha Rice, Davis's cousin, said family members were horrified by Davis's injuries, especially because she had recurring medical problems resulting from sickle cell anemia. Neighbors said Davis had been taken to the hospital by ambulance on several occasions.
"We were worried that maybe she was kicked in the side, because she has had some kidney problems," Rice said.
Violence involving girls is still rare but is rising across the country. Since 1987, juvenile female arrests have increased at a faster rate than those of males, and the number of juvenile females arrested in violent crimes doubled from 1988 to 1997, FBI statistics show.
Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said he has seen a "monumental" increase in prosecutions of girls and women.
"I can remember a day when you could have 100 indictments go through the grand jury and not a single defendant was a woman," Horan said. "But over the last 15 to 20 years, that's changed unbelievably. . . . The $64,000 question is, 'What is going on out there that's causing that?' "
Melissa Sickmund, a senior research associate for the National Center for Juvenile Justice, suggested that the juvenile justice system used to be more paternal and may have been hesitant to prosecute girls.
"In the past, it was the boy who got attention," Sickmund said. "Now the girl is brought in as well."
Staff writers David S. Fallis, Tom Jackman, Christina A. Samuels and Leef Smith contributed to this report.
CAPTION: Natalie Giles Davis's head was slammed into a sidewalk by one teen and kicked by another in a road dispute.