Teen rapper ‘Baby K’ to be tried as adult in attempted killing on Md. school bus

A 16-year-old known as “Baby K” will be tried as an adult on charges connected to the attempted killing of a student on a Prince George’s County, Maryland, school bus in May 2023, a judge ruled Thursday afternoon.

Police said Kaeden Holland was 15 when he burst onto a school bus with a gun and tried to shoot a student, but the gun malfunctioned. The judge said the attempted shooting was planned out, and not the impulsiveness of youth, ordering his case to stay in the adult justice system.

‘Baby K,’ along with two other teens, was indicted in June on 16 charges, including attempted murder, assault and reckless endangerment.

A case that ‘shocked the conscience’

During Thursday’s court proceedings, Prince George’s County Assistant State’s Attorney Sherrie Waldrup cast doubt on the juvenile system’s ability to help the teen, who Waldrup said is quick to anger and has a history of disrespect for authority going back to first grade.

Judge Michael Whelan ultimately agreed, saying the juvenile justice system has failed Holland in the past. The now 16-year-old was charged with gun violations at age 14 and did not complete the terms of his probation, with his juvenile weapons case closing just one-and-a-half months before the attempted school bus shooting, Whelan said.

While more than 80% of these cases get sent back down to juvenile court, Whelan said he decided to buck that trend in this instance because the juvenile system has proven insufficient for the defendant.

“We want to see this defendant change. We have high hopes for him in the future. We really do believe that. We believe that if he takes advantage of the services that are being offered, or that will be offered, that he has a chance to turn his life around,” Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said. “But the reality is, the juvenile system has not worked for him. It hasn’t. And so we have to try something else.”

He ‘is a child’

Michael Lawlor, the lead defense attorney, argued that the 16-year-old “is a child, that is a matter of fact,” and that the crime he’s accused of happened when he was too young to be mature enough to know.

The juvenile system would better help turn the teenager’s life around, Lawlor argued, and if he went through the adult system, he would become a bigger risk to engage in more criminal behavior.

The boy was shot in the leg at 14 and has seen multiple friends killed by gun violence, Lawlor said Thursday, arguing his client has been greatly impacted by that trauma.

Police referred to him as Baby K and shared photos of him while they were searching for him during the month of May. He has appeared in multiple rap music videos under the name “BabyK 2800.”

The case is set to go to trial March 18.

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Thomas Robertson

Thomas Robertson is an Associate Producer and Web Writer/Editor at WTOP. After graduating in 2019 from James Madison University, Thomas moved away from Virginia for the first time in his life to cover the local government beat for a small daily newspaper in Zanesville, Ohio.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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