News & Current Affairs

'I would apologise after he apologises to those children'' | Day Care Owner Says After Shooting Husband On Accusations of Child Molestation

By Azeezat Okunlola | Mar 14, 2023
Shanteari Weems, speaking exclusively from prison, said she shot her husband in the neck and thigh at a plush Washington, DC hotel when she found out he was being accused of sexually abusing children at the daycare she ran in Baltimore.
Her first public comments come after a judge's ruling that put her in prison for four years on account of serious assault and carrying unlicensed firearm, leaving both her legal team and the prosecution in shock.
Her response to the sentence was, "I was emotional."
The ex-correction officer, now 50 years old, said she is leaning on the support of the women in her cell block and planning for her release.
Shanteari Weems stated, “Despite my surroundings, I'm doing Okay. I have a lot of supporters and people who uplift me and help me survive." 
The hashtag #FREESHANTEARI has been trending on the internet, full of messages of support for her. Many people look up to her as if she were a guardian angel sent to pursue retribution for the abuse of children.
Former police officer, James Weems, has been charged with 33 charges of rape and child sex offences by prosecutors. As he awaits trial, his solicitor, Thomas Plavanic, is staying mum on the matter.
Judge O'Keefe stated during sentence that Shanteari Weems did not strike her spouse in a rash moment but rather planned it ahead of time. La Vater Massie-Banks, an assistant U.S. attorney, stated that police had informed her days prior that they were investigating her husband and had closed the day care, Lil Kidz Kastle, while looking into complaints of child sexual assault.
But, according to Shanteari Weems, the police were quite evasive regarding the allegations and the individuals they were looking into.
"The only person I had to find out information from was my husband," she said. "And he kept saying he didn't do it ... I did believe him." 
Nevertheless, the mother of a child she had loved and cared for for years said that they needed to speak.
"I saw the pain in her face, and I knew she was not lying," Shanteari Weems said. "She finally said it was my husband." 
According to Shanteari Weems, that was the breaking point.
"I felt like the blood had just drained out of my body because... it was my husband," she stated, her eyes shining with tears. "He was supposed to help me protect these children. He always told me he was my protector. So when I heard this, I just felt like – I just felt like my world had ended." 
She felt violated when she learned of the accusations made against James Weems, and it made her face the fact that she had failed as well.
“We were both supposed to be on this crusade of saving children, and child molestation is something that we had talked about all the time, how horrible it was,” she said. “I think about that child all the time. I think about all the children all the time." 
After her first drink in 20 years, she allegedly texted her business partner, "I'm going to kill him and then myself." Afterwards, she got in her car and headed to the hotel, where she met him in a fit of rage.
"I snapped, I’m not a violent person," she explained.
She claims that the argument got out of hand in the hotel room.
"The situation was kind of like a fire," Shanteari Weems said. "He was fuel. I was fuel ... We poured fuel on that fire. We just got to arguing, fussing, and one thing led to another."
Two shots were fired, the first hitting the victim in the neck and the second in the leg. That second shot was fired without any thought, she claims.
The judge implied that she intended to cause a "devastating" and "life-altering injury," calling her actions "deliberate cruelty."
This, however, is something that Shanteari Weems flatly refuted.
"She was confronted with a situation where a child that she had watched take their first steps, go to the first day of [school], learn how to ride a bike, grow up in front of them – she had this parent come to her and broke her whole world," Shanteari Weems' lawyer, Tony Garcia, said. "And in a moment she had a drink and confronted that person in just a moment ... And to measure her by, I don't know, one minute, five minutes – 40 minutes out of her entire lifetime of good? To me it's terrible."
After hearing that Judge O'Keefe had doubled the penalty prosecutors had agreed to, Garcia expressed amazement, disbelief, and anger.
"Never have I been hit like that in trial without warning or without some sort of courtesy that the judge disagreed with the agreement between the parties," the lawyer said. 
Garcia said that he and Shanteari Weems would have gone to trial if the judge hadn't accepted the terms of the plea agreement, adding that he thought the jury would have shown sympathy for Weems. He has asked the judge to consider reducing her four-year sentence.
Shanteari Weems admitted she had suicidal thoughts.
"I feel I let my family down," she said. "I feel like I let those kids' families down. I feel like I just trusted the wrong person.”
Shanteari Weems, when questioned if she felt remorse, stated she is sorry for what she has done but will not apologise to her husband.
"I will apologise when he apologises to those children," she stated.
In February, Shanteari Weems sought a divorce from her husband. She has been helping Baltimore County authorities after her husband was accused of assaulting four children (two boys and two girls) while they were between the ages of 9 and 11.
After serving her four-year sentence, she plans to launch an organisation dedicated to ending child abuse.
"I’m definitely going to make a great batch of lemonade from these lemons I’ve been dealt," she said.
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