Teen beaten in tunnel accused in two attacks
The 15-year-old girl who was beaten in Seattle's bus tunnel last month was accused of attacking two people last year, including a security guard.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Tamie Cox, of Shoreline, says she was disturbed when she saw the now-infamous videotape of 15-year-old Aiesha Steward-Baker being kicked, punched and robbed in Seattle's bus tunnel.
Cox was herself the victim of an assault and robbery on May 23, when she was attacked on an Edmonds street by two girls.
One of the girls arrested and charged in the assault was Steward-Baker.
"The video of the [transit tunnel] beating is awful, but once I saw her on 'Good Morning America' it made me sick to think that she has the nerve to play the victim when a few months back she was doing that to somebody else, and that somebody else was me," said Cox, 50, an accountant at a law office.
The beating of Steward-Baker on Jan. 28, which occurred as transit security guards stood by and watched, has sparked a national outcry and prompted King County Metro and local law-enforcement agencies to revamp security in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. The teen also has accused Seattle police officers of failing to heed her requests for help in the hour leading up to the assault; she had claimed she was being threatened by the group of young people accused of robbing and beating her.
Four people have been charged in connection with the attack on Steward-Baker, including a 15-year-old girl.
Steward-Baker's Seattle lawyer, James Bible, said last week that he expects to file suit in connection with the transit-tunnel incident and is reviewing potential defendants, including King County, Seattle police, King County Metro and Olympic Security Services, the private security firm that contracts with Metro.
2 assault cases
While the images of Steward-Baker being kicked while she is on the ground are clearly troubling, prosecutors in two counties say she has been on the other end of assaults twice in the past year.
In addition to the alleged assault on Cox — in which Steward-Baker is expected to plead guilty in Snohomish County Juvenile Court on Monday — she also has been convicted of attacking a security guard at a Seattle market.Updated, 1:11 p.m., Feb. 18
Bible, who is also head of the Seattle chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Thursday the girl has been in counseling for the past several months and has been working hard to correct her past missteps.
He said police should have responded to her cries for help on Jan. 28 regardless of any past criminal behavior.
"Some people seem to have decided that she is less worthy of police response than other people," he said. "We believe that anybody who reaches out to law enforcement in their moment of need is worthy and should receive help," he said.
Cox said she was walking home from an Edmonds pub shortly after midnight on May 23 when two "nicely dressed and polite girls" stopped and asked her for the time. When Cox pulled out her cellphone to check, the girls jumped her. One put Cox in a head lock and yanked at her hair while the second girl punched her in the face and chest and grabbed her purse.
Within seconds, Cox said, the girls and two boys who stood nearby were gone. Determined not to be a victim, Cox ran after them.
"I was so mad," Cox recalled. "I have a 17-year-old son myself. When I see kids doing something they're not supposed to, I don't hesitate to direct them. They needed to be in trouble."
When the four teens ran down a dark alley, Cox stopped in her tracks and began to worry for her safety.
Cox said she then ran toward Highway 99, where she saw the lights of a police car. Cox told the Edmonds officer what happened and he replied that an eyewitness had already called 911. Another group of officers already had suspects in custody.
Cox identified the girls who attacked her. She also spotted her purse, which was sitting on the hood of a squad car.
While Cox wasn't hospitalized, she said that the fight left her with a sore neck, a bruised lip and chest and clumps of missing hair.
According to charging papers, Steward-Baker told police that she struck Cox, stole her purse and then dumped the bag in some shrubs.
Steward-Baker's public defender, Frederic Moll, said Wednesday that the girl plans to plead guilty to second-degree robbery Monday. However, he plans to seek a significantly reduced sentence because the teen suffers from an "abnormal" heart condition that can result in her death if she's under too much stress or becomes short of breath, according to plea paperwork.
The teen also suffers from anxiety attacks, the paperwork said.
While Moll plans to request a 30-day sentence for his client, Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor John Stansell believes the teen should serve a standard-range sentence, which is 15 to 36 weeks in a juvenile facility. The second teenage girl who participated in the attack pleaded guilty in June to second-degree robbery and was sentenced to between 15 and 36 weeks in jail, Stansell said.
Stansell said he considered Steward-Baker's previous arrest in Seattle in his decision to seek the standard sentencing range.
In September, Steward-Baker was given a deferred sentence in King County Juvenile Court after she pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree robbery for attacking a security guard at Saar's Market Place, 9000 Rainier Ave. S., on Jan. 26, 2009, court charging papers said. Steward-Baker punched the man in the head after he stopped her friend for shoplifting an energy drink and a bag of chips.
Probation and curfew
In exchange for her guilty plea, Steward-Baker was ordered to serve four months of probation and a year of community service, attend counseling, have a nightly curfew and refrain from using drugs and alcohol or possessing weapons, court papers said. The time of the curfew wasn't immediately clear.
The Seattle Times generally does not name juveniles accused of crimes, but in recent days Steward-Baker has appeared in a news conference called by her attorney and appeared Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America." During her television appearance she recounted the transit-tunnel attack and the events leading up to it.
Four people were arrested in the attack: the 15-year-old alleged assailant (who is not being named because she has been charged in juvenile court); Latroy Hayman, 20; Tyrone Watson, 18; and Dominique Whitaker, 18.
The King County Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday that it is searching for a fifth person in connection with the transit-tunnel attack. The Sheriff's Office has identified a 17-year-old man named Quashawn Monroe as the fifth suspect in the beating. Monroe is also known by his nickname "Savage." The Times is naming Monroe because The Sheriff's Office considers him armed and dangerous.
"I don't feel good about what happened to her, but I'm not surprised," Cox said about the attack on Steward-Baker. "But there is karma. If you dabble in bad things, then bad things are going to come back to you. She is definitely not an angel."
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report, which includes information from Times archives.
An earlier version of this story, published February, 17, 2010 and corrected February 17, 2010, incorrectly spelled Tamie Cox's name. We regret the error.
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