Bail denied for day care owner accused of shooting husband over child abuse allegations

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sitting handcuffed in an orange jail jumpsuit, Shanteari Weems wept as her lawyer described the chaotic moment she shot her husband inside a luxury hotel room in Washington, D.C., last week.  

“He went from zero to one thousand. He charged at her,” defense attorney Tony Garcia told Judge Sherry Trafford. 

The shooting followed a heated confrontation over allegations the husband, James Weems, was abusing children at her day care facility. 

When Garcia asked Weems’ supporters to stand up, more than half the courtroom did so. 

“She wanted justice for those kids,” Garcia said of his client, the owner of Lil Kidz Kastle in Owings Mills. 

Weems faces felony assault and weapons charges for the shooting. One bullet went through her husband James Weems’ neck. Another remains lodged in his thigh.

While Garcia pleaded for his client’s release, Judge Trafford denied it and ordered Shanteari Weems held without bail. 

It prompted an outcry inside the courtroom, according to WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren.

Hellgren was the only Baltimore television reporter inside at the time.

“When you’re a person who wakes up every morning who is responsible for 90 children and 16 employees . . . being behind bars, taking your freedom from you is hell,” Garcia said. 

“I have great concern for her ability to make decisions rationally,” Judge Trafford said. 

Trafford called the shooting “a serious offense” and said she could not consider the motive for the shooting at this time noting her “potentially deadly actions.”

Trafford noted she “does not consider emotions that are heightened. People when they confront someone always believe there is a valid reason.”

In an affidavit obtained by WJZ, police said Shanteari Weems went to Washington, D.C., on a work trip with her husband on July 20. 

James Weems is a retired Baltimore City police officer who was working a security detail in the nation’s capital. 

Police said while in Washington, D.C., she received “multiple calls and messages from parents and teachers” regarding allegations her husband was molesting children at her day care.

Her lawyer said that after a mother who had known his client for years called her to detail abuse allegations, Weems confronted her husband in their hotel room.

“She has always maintained that she was confronted by a mother who was distraught, who was upset, whom she had known for many years that her son had been molested,” Garcia told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren Friday. “She was emotionally shattered. She went down there asking him what happened. He went from zero to one thousand. He came at her. She had to defend herself.”

In court, a prosecutor showed the judge photos of the bloody scene and a bullet hole that went through the wall. 

Detective Andrew Gong, who investigated the case, testified Weems never told him she was scared of her husband but repeatedly told him she was “confused.”

This week, Baltimore County police said they intend to charge James Weems with molesting at least three children. He is currently in Washington, D.C., and will not fight extradition. In court, the judge said Baltimore County police plan to transport him back to Maryland on Monday.

A key piece of evidence is Shanteari Weems’ notebook. In it, police said she called her husband “scum” and said, “I want these kids to get justice” and “You gonna pay . . . My only regret for me is that I didn’t put the bullet in your head.” 

Police said she also apologized to her “babies” and stated “I did not know” about the alleged abuse. Police said she left an informal last will and testament.

“She made a decision that protecting children is the most important thing in her life,” Garcia said. 

Outside the courtroom following the decision to hold Weems without bail, family members embraced each other. They declined to comment. 

“She does have a lot of community support and I feel like that should lend to her release,” said Afeni Evans, an activist watching the proceedings. “If she were literally anyone else, she would be out. And we need to start looking at our criminal justice system and the disparities that affect Black women especially. She was protecting children. Regardless of whether or not you feel what she did was justifiable, she was protecting children.”

WJZ has been unable to reach an attorney or representative for James Weems.

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