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Two arraigned in Berkeley County Circuit Court plead not guilty in death of toddler

Among other charges, James N. Mauldin and Jasmine K. Dawkins face charge of death of a child by parent, guardian and/or custodian by child abuse

June 06, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Two people charged in the New Year’s Day death of a 3-year-old boy pleaded not guilty to multiple counts at their arraignment Tuesday in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

James N. Mauldin, 20, and Jasmine K. Dawkins, 23, were indicted last month by a Berkeley County grand jury on one count of death of a child by parent, guardian and/or custodian by child abuse, two counts of gross child neglect creating substantial risk of serious bodily injury and one count of presentation of false information regarding a child’s injuries in the death of Kaiwon Connelly, according to the indictment.

Mauldin, who is the boy’s father, also was indicted on one count of child abuse causing serious bodily and malicious assault, the indictment said.

The couple’s trial was scheduled for Dec. 10 by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge John C. Yoder, who agreed to modify Mauldin’s bond from $275,000 cash-only to $275,000 cash or surety.

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Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely told Yoder she did not object to the modification.

Dawkins, whose bond was similarly modified before Tuesday’s hearing, has been released from jail.

Defense attorney Christopher Prezioso said he didn’t expect Mauldin to be able to post bail even with the modification. Prezioso had asked for a $50,000 bond, but Yoder denied that request.

Both Dawkins and Mauldin waived their right to a speedy trial and Dawkins’ attorney, Sherman L. Lambert Sr., told the court that additional time would be needed given a significant amount of medical evidence and witnesses in the case. Both Prezioso and Lambert said they intend to have experts review evidence in the case.

The trial could take four or five days, the attorneys said.

Police allege that Dawkins knowingly allowed Mauldin to inflict injuries on the boy that led to the his death. Both are accused of failing to seek medical care for burns on the child’s buttocks and legs and after knowing that Mauldin struck the boy in the head, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges the couple also falsely stated to authorities that Kaiwon fell and struck his head, causing the injuries in question.

Dawkins, whose address on her indictment was listed as 2749 Pinewood Drive in Waldorf, Md., is not the boy’s biological mother, authorities said.

Police have said Kaiwon had multiple head injuries, including a fractured skull and brain bleeds. Dawkins told police the injuries were the result of Mauldin punching the boy several times a few days before the boy was hospitalized.

The boy died at Children’s National Medical Center inWashington, D.C., police said.

Dawkins told police she did not report Mauldin’s alleged mistreatment of his son because she was afraid of being abused herself and said she had been previously abused.

At the time of the boy’s death, the couple’s address was listed in court records as 214 Joshua Drive, Apt. 616, which is where police responded to investigate an “EMS assist-cardiac arrest” on Dec. 31, 2011, at about 6 p.m.

Dawkins told police that the boy was burned with skillets and pans that were heated and placed underneath the child to keep him from sitting on the floor. The boy was expected to remain in a squatted position while being disciplined, police have said.

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