BALTIMORE (TCD) — A 44-year-old woman could spend the next several decades in prison after pleading guilty to a charge relating to the death of her young stepson, whose burned body was later found in a dumpster.
The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office announced Friday, May 12, that Shatika Lawson entered the plea for child abuse resulting in death and faces up to life in prison with all but 33 1/2 years suspended for the death of 4-year-old Malachi Camron Bethea-Lawson. Court records show Lawson faced a slew of other charges, including first-degree child abuse, neglect of a minor, and second-degree murder.
Shatika Lawson’s wife, Alicia Lawson, pleaded guilty in 2021 to the same charge and was sentenced to life in prison with all but 30 years suspended, WJZ-TV reports. A judge also sentenced Alicia Lawson to five years of probation.
Malachi was reported missing to Baltimore Police on Aug. 1, 2019, and police found his body in the garbage two days later on the 5500 block of Haddon Avenue.
According to the probable cause affidavit cited by WBAL-TV, Alicia initially told police Malachi disappeared while he was on the front doorstep and she “went inside momentarily.” Police searched the area but came up empty.
During the investigation, Baltimore Police investigators learned Alicia and Shatika were bathing Malachi on July 23, 2019, because he “soiled himself.” The two women reportedly put Malachi in the bathtub while washing his clothes in the sink. The probable cause statement says the women noticed Malachi “suffered from multiple serious burns to his entire lower body from the waist down to his feet.”
TThe burns were so severe that some of the child’s skin was floating in the water.
Neither Alicia nor Shatika sought medical care for Malachi or treated the injuries because they feared Malachi could be taken out of their custody.
On Aug. 1, 2019, Alicia found her son “in a puddle of wetness” and discovered he was dead. She placed her son in a trash bag, called a Lyft, and dropped her son in a dumpster on Haddon Avenue. She previously searched for trash collection sites on her phone, according to the statement.
Detectives located the trash bag Aug. 3. Shatika told police she put Malachi in the hot water and they hid his injuries “for the sake of their own well-being.”
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