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Mother accused of brutal attack is hospitalized for evaluation

Contact with her children forbidden

Aram Boghosian for The Globe

Tanicia Goodwin was found too dangerous to be set free during a hearing Monday in Salem District Court.

SALEM - A Salem woman accused of slashing the throats of her two young children and setting their apartment on fire was found too dangerous to be set free during a hearing Monday in Salem District Court, where prosecutors painted her as an abusive mother who regularly beat her children.

Tanicia Goodwin, 25, was also ordered by Judge Michael C. Lauranzano to have no contact with her children, Jamaal, 8, and Erica, 3.

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She was transported to Worcester State Hospital for an evaluation to determine whether she should be held in a hospital or at MCI-Framingham, where she was sent following her March 19 arraignment on charges of armed assault with intent to murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and arson. She pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Assistant Essex District Attorney Melissa Woodard said Goodwin has a “history of anger issues’’ that make her a danger not only to her children, but to the public at large.

Steve Van Dyke, one of Goodwin’s two court-appointed lawyers, asked Lauranzano to “help Miss Goodwin become a stable member of the community.’’

During the four-hour hearing, Woodard recounted the grisly details of Goodwin’s alleged attack on her two children on March 18 at Salem Heights Apartments. She slashed each child’s throat from one side of the neck to the other, Woodard said.

KAYANA SZYMCZAK FOR THE GLOBE

Deborah Cox said her family is praying for her cousin Tanicia Goodwin and for her children.

The children remain hospitalized at Children’s Hospital Boston, where Jamaal is in intensive care, Woodard said. They have been placed in the custody of the state Department of Children and Families, which has been working with the family since at least May 2011, she said.

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The state agency became involved after Jamaal Goodwin told his teachers at Witchcraft Heights Elementary School that his mother beat him and his sister with a belt, broom, and slippers. The boy also told teachers and family services workers that “he is afraid of his mother when she gets angry,’’ Woodard said.

Jamaal said his mother once hit him so hard on the forehead that his nose bled because he “didn’t know how much 10 plus 10 equals,’’ Woodard said. When asked why he did not tell the state family services workers who visited his home that he was afraid, Jamaal responded, “What should I say if Mommy is sitting right there on the couch?’’ according to Woodard.

For most of the hearing, Goodwin sat with her head down, but at one point appeared to be sniffling and wiping tears from her eyes.

She did not make eye contact with her nine family members seated in the second row of the courthouse, quietly consoling each other. “She didn’t even look our way,’’ said Deborah Cox of Dorchester, Goodwin’s cousin.

Cox said her family is praying for the children and for Tanicia’s well-being. “I think she should be in the hospital,’’ Cox said outside the courtroom. “I think she’s unstable.’’

Van Dyke and Woodard grilled Salem and State Police detectives about their response and investigation into the events of March 18 and 19.

Tanicia Goodwin walked barefoot to the Salem Police Department, covered with blood and smelling of lighter fluid, police said. After smashing a glass display case in the lobby, Goodwin sat down in the lobby.

When asked her name, she would not give it, but stated repeatedly, “I’m sorry. I had to protect my children. I’m sorry,’’ Salem police Sergeant James Page testified Monday.

Officer William Jennings said Goodwin admitted to him during questioning that she harmed her children. “I asked her, ‘Did you do this?’ ’’ Jennings told the court. “She shook her head yes,’’ he said.

Goodwin is due back in court on May 3 for a probable cause hearing.

Kathy McCabe can be reached at kmccabe@globe.com

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