Mother of Slain Columbia Toddler Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanor Child Care Violation

The death of 3-year-old Elijah LaJeuness remains unsolved.


The mother of a slain toddler, whose death is still unsolved, pleaded guilty to committing acts that contributed to a child needing assistance from the state, a misdemeanor, in Howard County Circuit Court on Thursday morning.

Joaquinia LaJeuness, 29, of Columbia, was sentenced to three years, with all but eleven days suspended, by Judge Richard A. Bernhardt. LaJeuness was granted time served for the eleven days, but will serve two years of supervised probation.

The charges stemmed from a November 2010 case in which LaJeuness's son, Elijah LaJeuness, was found with , according to the statement of the facts from the case.

Five months after the reported abuse, 3-year-old Elijah was found unresponsive in LaJeuness's home at the 9600 block of Basking Ridge, on April 13, 2011. His death was by asphyxia.

At the time Elijah was found with bruises in 2010, LaJeuness had agreed to a safety plan provided by Howard County Social Services to keep her former boyfriend away from the toddler, but it was discovered the boyfriend continued to live with LaJeuness after the order, according to the statement of the facts from the case.

The safety plan was , after burn marks were discovered on the top of Elijah's feet.

After the bruises were found on Elijah's face, police investigated the case and Elijah reportedly told them LaJeuness's former boyfriend had struck him, according to the statement of facts.

with second-degree child abuse, second-degree assault, contributing to acts that required assistance for a child and obstructing an investigation for her involvement in the reported 2010 abuse.

The state's attorney in the case agreed to not pursue prosecution on the other charges if LaJeuness pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor contribution charge. As part of the plea, LaJeuness must abide by any safety plan issued by social services regarding her 9-year-old daughter.

At the time of Elijah's death, only LaJeuness, her former boyfriend and daughter were inside the home, according to investigators. Howard County social services officials allowed identified as his “alleged maltreator” after the child’s mother requested it on March 21, 2011.

Since the death, Howard County Police have said LaJeuness and her former boyfriend have not cooperated in the investigation into Elijah's death. No one has been charged in the toddler's death.

Sr. assistant state's attorney Lisa Broten said she had no comment on whether the state's attorney's office was pursuing homicide charges against LaJeuness or her former boyfriend for Elijah's death.

"We urge anyone with any information [about Elijah's death] to please contact Howard County Police," said Broten outside the courtroom.

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Je September 13, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Jesus. Arrest them both for murdering that Poor boy. One will come forward w the truth eventually if they r both in prison. It's a damn shame.
Oh brother September 13, 2012 at 07:50 PM
And all she got was 11 days. We definitely don't value our little ones enough
Laurie September 13, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Insane. Where are the masses to march for this child? He is no longer with us and the only two people involved were there so why aren't they in jail?
Laurie September 13, 2012 at 08:02 PM
"Sr. assistant state's attorney Lisa Broten" - Contact her office and demand they press charges. A lot of people complained about a dog that was killed in Baltimore City and they retried the case. If no one makes any noise, this poor child will just be forgotten.
Elijah's Voice September 13, 2012 at 08:31 PM
She really only spent 7-8 days in jail. The worst part is DSS plans to give her daughter back to her sometime soon. I hope more people speak out about this. After all that poor little girl has been through she doesn't need to be back around that BS. Maybe we could all plan some sort of event for these two children and invite the media to attend.
Brenda Snyder September 13, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Incog Neato September 13, 2012 at 09:05 PM
this injustice makes me SICK TO MY STOMACH!! why on earth is this woman being rewarded for not cooperating with the law,violating direct court orders AND worst of all;her little boy dying in HER home!! JESUS people! this case has been gift wrapped for the prosecution.. I feel as though someone is trying to cover this up. unbelievable. I bet if Elijah belonged to one of these "officials" this case would have been over by now and someone would be in jail serving maximum sentence. Sickening. we wont give up on you Elijah =) we wont!
dj September 14, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Another example of the Howard County D.A., Sheriff Department and Department of Social Services NOT doing their jobs. It's easier to let these worthless pieces of crap slide than to hold them accountable. Sounds to me like they let them skate because the County doesn't want to have to own up to the fact that DSS allowed a visit earlier in the month. If the case went to trial, that case worker and the Department would have to give explanations as to why they allowed the visit in the first place. Howard County -- sweep it under the rug like you do everything else that would require a little work on your part.
Colliemom September 14, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Amazed; thought better of the Howard County government agencies. The mom is guilty on so many levels; she allowed the boyfriend continued access to the injured child, then won't speak about how he died. That's enough to remove the other child from her "care" and to jail her indefinitely. Agree 100% with the other posters here; this "mom" is being allowed to walk with little to no consequences. This is an injustice to the dead child. The courts should have sentenced both the mom and the boyfriend to indefinate prison terms; if they are both covering up, then they are both guilty. They both profitted by their silence; great example for other perps.
Linda Alston September 14, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Will their be any justice for that baby he had a right to live. But his life was taken at such an early age I hope that guilt will haunt them for the rest of their lives,but we know for sure God has his justice!
GS September 15, 2012 at 02:13 PM
What happens to the current baby she's carrying? Is she going to be allowed to keep it with her when she's due in October?
Elijah's Voice September 16, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Is she pregnant? I hope that god wiuldn't allow her to bring another child into this world after what happened. I seen her recently and she didn't look pregnant.
GS September 16, 2012 at 09:08 PM
As far as I know, yes she is. Had a name picked out and all.


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