DOCUMENT: Florida, Crime

Charge Reduced Against Video Brawl Mom

Floridian coached daughter during fight with classmate

Girl Fight

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Girl Fight Mom

JANUARY 19--The Florida woman arrested in September for acting as her teen daughter’s cornerman during a public fistfight with a classmate (a video of which went viral) has had a felony child abuse charge filed against her reduced to a misdemeanor count, according to court records.

Additionally, prosecution files reveal that investigators obtained two other videos recording April Newcomb’s exhortations to her 16-year-old child during the brawl in a field near Palmetto High School. In one of the videos, seen below, Newcomb (wearing a white t-shirt) can be seen conversing with Hilda Shields, mother of the other 16-year-old combatant, as their children wrestle in front of dozens of onlookers, many of whom were hooting and filming the fight.

The decision to reduce Newcomb’s charge to a misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor was disclosed last month by prosecutors in Manatee County. A December 20 Circuit Court filing notes that Newcomb, 39, has been offered a plea deal that includes a sentence of 12 months probation and which would require her to attend a parenting class. 

A probable cause affidavit charged that Newcomb drove her daughter to the fight and “urged the fight on by yelling and inciting the two teens to fight.” On the three videos, Newcomb can be heard voicing encouragements such as “punch her in the fucking body” and “kick her ass” to her child, who was getting beaten rather badly.

A Manatee County Sheriff’s Office report notes that when an investigator first saw one of the clips, she “thought the video was the nature of a ‘gang beat in.’” But as the video continued, the cop reported, “I noticed that the two girls were surrounded by other teens not wearing colors or clothing that typical gang member activity usually displays.” Not to mention that spectators were wearing cutoffs, flip-flops, board shorts, and most of the items offered at Abercrombie & Fitch. Latin Kings they were not.

When investigators interviewed Shields’s daughter, the girl said the September 17 fight had been prompted by a confrontation at school the prior day, and that she and Newcomb’s daughter resolved to fight during an exchange of text messages. She added that the teens “were forced to fight due to peer pressure from the kids at school” since “once they had told everyone that they were going to fight, that she felt that she/they couldn’t back down.”

The teenager said that Newcomb “was egging the fight on,” an assertion backed up by one of the two videos unearthed by police. In the video, seen below, Newcomb can be seen screaming directions to her daughter as she hovers near the teenagers grappling on the grass.

Hilda Shields told cops that she arrived at the field while the fight was in progress, remarking that “the crowd looked like animals and she was shocked and scared.” She said that she asked Newcomb “why she didn’t break up the fight” and was told that the girls “needed to fight.”

As part of the investigation of the fight, Palmetto Police Department officers spoke to a pair of students present for the brawl. Both reported hearing that Newcomb had kept her daughter home from school on the day of the incident “to train her how to fight.” Evan Campbell, 18, told an officer that he spotted Newcomb arriving at the fight site “with a cigarette and a drink.” (5 pages)