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Woman pleads guilty to shooting husband after he was accused of abusing kids

Authorities said Shanteari Weems shot her husband in a luxury Washington hotel after confronting him about allegations he abused kids at a day care she owned

The owner of a day-care center accused of shooting her husband in a luxury hotel in Washington after confronting him about allegations that he had sexually abused children pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated assault and carrying a pistol without a license.

Seated next to her attorneys in D.C. Superior Court, Shanteari Weems, 50, of Randallstown, Md., twice said the word “guilty” when asked how she pleaded to the charges associated with the shooting this summer. If the deal with prosecutors is accepted by a judge, Weems could face up to two years in prison.

At a previous hearing, Weems’s attorney told a D.C. Superior Court judge that his client was acting in self-defense when she shot her husband in a room in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Southwest Washington on July 21.

Weems, the attorney said, had been told earlier that day that her husband, James S. Weems Jr., had sexually assaulted a child at the day care she owned, Lil Kidz Kastle. The allegation came from the child’s mother, the attorney said.

Tony Garcia, Shanteari Weems’s attorney, said previously that his client drove from Baltimore County to Washington to confront her husband, a former Baltimore police officer who was as working private security for the National Urban League’s convention in the city. Her husband was staying overnight at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Shanteari Weems took her 9mm handgun for protection, knowing her husband also had a licensed handgun, her attorney said. Garcia said that when she arrived at Room 853, she raised the allegations, and her husband became aggressive. In fear, Garcia said, his client shot her husband twice.

She was arrested and charged with multiple crimes, including possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, aggravated assault while armed, carrying a pistol without a license outside a home or office and resisting arrest.

Assistant U.S. Attorney LaVater Massie-Banks said at Monday’s hearing that Shanteari Weems’s actions were more deliberate. Massie-Banks said Weems shot her husband in the neck, and when he collapsed to his hotel room floor, she walked over and shot him in the leg, shattering his femur.

James Weems, 57, required surgery, and a metal rod was placed in his leg, the prosecutor said. The prosecutor added that Shanteari Weems’s husband weeks later needed to walk with a walker.

Massie-Banks also read from a journal found in the hotel room, in which Shanteari Weems wrote she did not plan on killing her husband, but wanted to “paralyze” him.

James Weems was charged in connection with the alleged sex abuse while recovering in the hospital and transported to Baltimore County. He is facing more than 30 counts of child sexual abuse and assault charges in connection with at least four victims, according to Maryland court records. He remains held in a Baltimore-area jail without bond and is scheduled to go on trial in May. Prosecutors alerted a Maryland judge earlier this month that they plan to seek enhanced penalties on the charges based on the ages of the victims and witnesses involved. That could mean additional years in prison if he is convicted.

An attorney for James Weems declined to comment.

Shanteari Weems has remained in the D.C. jail since her arrest on the day of the shooting, despite her attorney’s efforts last month to have her released pending trial. Judge Michael O’Keefe denied the request.

After the hearing, two individuals who attended the hearing in support of Shanteari Weems declined to comment. Garcia said his client “cooperated” with Baltimore authorities in the prosecution of her husband’s assault case. He called the circumstances of the shooting “a tragedy.”

“We are not asking anyone to feel sorry for her, but we are asking people to have empathy for her,” Garcia said.

O’Keefe is scheduled to sentence Weems on Feb. 3.