Woman pleads guilty to beating a mother as toddler watched

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SALEM, N.J. (AP) — A woman accused of savagely beating a mother in front of her young child last year has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault charges.

Latia Harris entered the guilty plea last week, Salem County prosecutor John Lenahan told NJ.com (http://bit.ly/1DFu8AI ). Harris, 25, faces five to 10 years in prison when she's sentenced in June.

Harris turned herself in after a videotape surfaced in which, authorities said, she pummeled the mother of a toddler in the face and kicked her in the back. Her family had pleaded with her to surrender, and she initially was charged with aggravated assault and making terroristic threats.

Several people watched as the assailant threatened to attack the mother's 2-year-old son, who yelled and kicked her legs in a futile effort to stop the violence.

The mother suffered impaired vision in her left eye and other injuries in the attack, authorities said.

Police Chief John Pelura III had described the video, which was posted online, as "physically sickening to watch," and he blasted witnesses for recording the beating instead of calling for help.

"There is so little regard for human life — by the actor and the bystanders," he said.

The assault took place in a field between a McDonald's restaurant and an apartment complex in Salem, a small city about 30 miles southwest of Philadelphia. Police received a call from the guardhouse outside the apartments and arrived to find the mother disoriented, confused and bleeding from the face. The mother, who used to work at the McDonald's, said she had a broken nose and a mild concussion.

She told officers that a McDonald's employee named Tia accused her of spreading rumors about her and her manager, police said.

The owner of the franchise confirmed the video showed one of his workers, who appeared to be wearing her fast-food uniform.


Information from: NJ Advance Media.

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