HAGERSTOWN MAN FOUND GUILTY OF RAPE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 24, 2021

 

FREDERICK, MD – Late Thursday afternoon in Frederick County Circuit Court, a jury found Clifford Edward Barnett, age 54, of Hagerstown, MD guilty of 2nd Degree Rape, 3rd degree sex offense, and 4th degree sex offense. The State requested that Barnett’s $25,000 unsecured bond be revoked after this conviction. Judge William R. Nicklas Jr. ruled that the defendant could remain on bond until sentencing. A sentencing date will be scheduled by the court’s assignment office.

 

At approximately 7:53 am September 30, 2019, officers with the Frederick Police Department were dispatched to a home in the 600 block of Taney Avenue in Frederick for the report of a rape. The female victim was transported by Frederick County DFRS EMTs to Frederick Health Hospital for a forensic medical examination. Detectives learned through investigation that the victim and the defendant had visited several downtown Frederick bars together, along with another male friend of the victim, the night of September 29th. The three consumed several alcoholic beverages over the course of the evening. The defendant then drove the victim and the other male friend to her house. The three continued to socialize until approximately 3am, when the victim made beds for the two men to sleep in and then went to bed in her bedroom on another floor of the residence. In the early morning hours of September 30th, the victim was awakened to find the defendant in her bed sexually assaulting her.  She immediately jumped up and began screaming and the defendant ran out of the residence.

 

The State was represented by Chief Assistant State’s Attorney Tammy Leache.

 

Clifford Edward Barnett

EVIDENCE REVIEW UNIT MARKS 1 YEAR MILESTONE: State body camera mandate will necessitate expansion in coming years

FREDERICK, MD- The Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office is marking the one-year anniversary since the inception of the Evidence Review Unit (ERU).  The ERU, which is comprised of four investigators and a supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney, is responsible for identifying, requesting, and reviewing all digital audio/video evidence generated by police during the course of a criminal investigation. Police body-worn cameras (BWCs), vehicle dash cameras, cellular phone videos and data, recorded witness interviews, and other audio-visual recordings are all examples of digital evidence the ERU reviews and processes.

 

The ERU was formed in tandem with the Frederick City Police Department’s (FPD) 2020 expansion of their BWC program.  Today, FPD has approximately 98 BWCs deployed and is expecting that number to grow very soon to closer to 150. Additionally, the Maryland State Police in Frederick currently operate approximately 18 vehicles equipped with dash cameras.  Combined, these devices produce on average 225 hours of raw footage per month that must be obtained and reviewed by our office.  The review process for any given case takes on average about two times the total length of the raw footage to be completed.  This means that each ERU investigator has the capacity to process and review about 4 hours of raw footage per day.

 

Earlier this year, the Maryland General Assembly passed a series of bills focused on the criminal justice system including the requirement that virtually all Maryland law enforcement be equipped with BWCs by certain dates.

 

Pursuant to this newly enacted legislation, the Maryland State Police is required to equip, at a minimum, all of its patrol troopers with cameras by July 1, 2023. For the Frederick Barrack, that will amount to approximately 35 cameras added in the next two years.

 

Local departments, including the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, Thurmont Police Department, and Brunswick Police Department, have until July 1, 2025 to fully implement their BWC programs.  Based on a review of current roster assignments, it is anticipated that the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office will equip between 150-175 deputies while Thurmont Police will equip approximately 10 and Brunswick Police will equip approximately 15.  Pilot programs are expected to be implemented by these departments well in advance of the deadline date.

The future demands of body-worn camera review, rapid increases in deployment, and additional needs for digital evidence review will necessitate additional staffing within the ERU. By 2023, we project that at least one additional investigator will be needed as a result of the July 1, 2023 deadline for MSP to fully implement their BWC program. By 2025, we expect the unit will need to grow even further as approximately 400 police officers within the County are expected to be equipped by this time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUGUST IS CHILD SUPPORT AWARENESS MONTH

FREDERICK, MD – Child Support Awareness Month is nationally recognized each year during the month of August to focus on the importance of providing financial support for children.  It also recognizes the child support professionals who are committed to making a difference in the lives of children.

“Every child has the right to receive support from both parents even if the parents are divorced, separated, or were never married.  The Maryland Child Support Administration works with both parents to provide the financial, medical and emotional support their children need to grow and thrive.” (Maryland DHR website)

The Frederick County Department of Social Services Child Support Administration (FCDSS) provides services to both non-custodial and custodial parents, which include the establishment of paternity, establishment of child support, collection and disbursement of child support, modification and enforcement of child support orders.  For more than 20 years, the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) has partnered with FCDSS to provide legal services for child support matters in Frederick County.

The Frederick County SAO is responsible for reviewing all cases referred to them by FCDSS in which a parent or caretaker has requested services to determine whether a case should be filed for paternity, support, modification or enforcement.  When appropriate, the SAO will file the pleadings in Court and represent the Department at any hearings on the matter.

COVID-19 has created many challenges to FCDSS and FCSAO in achieving this purpose.  For more than 9 months, the Courts were not hearing any child support matters due to COVID-19.  During that time, the FCSAO worked closely with FCDSS to streamline our electronic referral of cases so that we could continue to process and file cases even while the Court were shutdown.  In addition, FCSAO worked very hard to conduct out of court telephonic settlement conferences to try to resolve child support establishment and modification cases without hearings.  We are proud to say that we do not have any backlog of establishment or modification cases due to the shutdown of the Courts and we are finally able to resume the filing of contempt proceedings against non-custodial parents who are not paying their child support.  We have met the goals and expectations set for us by the State of Maryland despite the shutdown.

If you are in need of child support services, please go to the Maryland Department of Human Services Child Support Services website at www.dhs.maryland.gov/child-support-services/ .  You can apply for services on line.  You can also find information on how to fill out a request for modification of your child support at this website.

If you need to make a child support payment you can do so online at www.md.smartchildsupport.com or by calling 884-324-3855.

If you have a child support case and you have questions you can call the Department of Social Services at 1-800-332-6347 or email at fcdss.childsupport@maryland.gov.

 

 

ASSISTANT STATE’S ATTORNEY BRETT ENGLER TO CHAIR NEWLY FORMED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COORDINATING COUNCIL

Last week, the newly formed Frederick County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council held their first meeting. Assistant State’s Attorney Brett Engler will serve as chair, County Councilmember Jessica Fitzwater will serve as co-chair.  The Council, which is a multidisciplinary group different local county agencies, non-profits, and the Judiciary, will collaborate to promote and facilitate an effective, community-wide response to domestic violence here in the Frederick community.

 

Engler’s passion for protecting victims and combatting intergenerational cycles of violence led to the group’s formation at a time when it is more necessary than ever. The pandemic has led to an increased concern for domestic violence victims–as isolation, economic disruption, and uncertainty can exacerbate the power and control dynamics that cause abusive behavior.

 

In his remarks to the first meeting, State’s Attorney Charlie Smith commented, “I’ve seen the trauma and the devastation that these crimes cause and, quite frankly, continue to inflict well after they occur.” Smith is hopeful that this will be a new mechanism for increasing awareness, prevention, and creating policies and programs that ultimately save lives. “My hope is that having a DVCC will elevate the topic of domestic violence within the community, and provide a forum where the State’s Attorney’s Office can engage with other stakeholders in order to prevent victimization, deter violence, and address offenses in Frederick County for the safety of our most vulnerable,” Smith adds.

JUDGE RULES FORMER FREDERICK PEDIATRICIAN INCOMPETENT TO STAND TRIAL

FREDERICK, MD – In a written opinion released this morning, Circuit Court Judge Julie Stevenson Solt ruled that Ernesto Cesar Torres, age 70, of Frederick is incompetent to stand trial.  In December 2019, Defendant Ernesto Torres, was charged with ninety-eight counts of sexual offenses against nineteen separate juvenile victims from 7/2/2001 to 4/29/2019.  A hearing was held before Judge Solt on June 23, 2021 to determine the Defendant’s competency. Competency is defined as a defendant’s capability to assist counsel in preparing a defense and to understand the nature of the proceedings.

The State’s expert Psychiatrist, Dr. Danielle Robinson, of the Maryland Department of Health opined that the Defendant was competent to stand trial. However, the Defendant’s psychiatrist, Dr. Christiane Tellefsen, disagreed and believed the Defendant remains incompetent due to a delusional disorder and belief in an “Evil Black Witch”.  The Court concluded that each opinion is equally possible and therefore could not conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the Defendant is presently competent to stand trial.

The court ordered that Torres continue to be held in an appropriate hospital under the supervision of the Department of Health.  Further, the Court will review competency again in 90 days and hold subsequent annual reviews.

In reaction to today’s ruling, State’s Attorney Charlie Smith commented, “It’s very frustrating that these countless victims won’t be able to confront the Defendant and have their day in court.  It often provides some closure and assists in the healing process.  With this ruling, that avenue is closed.  We still feel strongly that he is competent and fully understands the abuse that he inflicted.”

 

DISTRICT COURT CHIEF JOINS FPD FOR LAUNCH OF NEW CRISIS RESPONSE TEAM

District Court Chief Michael Moore joined members of the Frederick Police Department for the launch of their new Crisis Response Team co-responder program. This new mental health resource will be provided to the citizens of Frederick City through a partnership between FPD, Sheppard Pratt, the Mental Health Association of Frederick County, Frederick County Health Dept., and the City of Frederick Dept. of Housing and Human Services. Moore believes that this will be an important step forward stating, “The Crisis Response Team is a great way to bring much needed mental health resources to the front lines. This new team is a perfect complement to what we are trying to achieve in the courtroom, with the added benefit of being present in the very first moments of crisis.”
The State’s Attorney’s Office is working hard to address the needs of those struggling with mental health issues. In September 2020, Frederick launched a Mental Health Court program. The Frederick County District Court’s Mental Health Court Program (MHCP) strives to compassionately and effectively address the needs of individuals with mental disorders in the criminal justice system by connecting participants to comprehensive and individualized treatment supports and services in the community. The MHCP is a post-plea, pre-sentence specialty court. The court project is a widely collaborative, community-based effort committed to providing access to resources, training, and expertise to address the unique needs of this population.
Following today’s launch of the Crisis Response Team car, Mental Health Court Coordinator Jeb Kimble commented, “we plan to work with FPD and hope that they are able to divert people to the resources they need.” He added, “it is important that we get to people before they become too deeply entrenched in the criminal justice system.”
The MHCP currently has 7 participants, with anticipated growth as the program continues to gain referrals.

CONVICTED FELON GETS 18 YEARS FOR POSSESSION OF REGULATED FIREARM AND PROBATION VIOLATION

FREDERICK, MD-     This morning in Frederick County Circuit Court, Judge Julie Stevenson Solt sentenced Mekhi Caire Davis, age 22, of Frederick, MD to eighteen and a half years in the Division of Corrections.

 

Davis pleaded guilty to possession of a regulated firearm with a prior felony conviction and received a sentence of five years to the Division of Corrections without eligibility for parole. At the time of this offense, Davis was on probation for felony possession with intent to distribute cocaine and another prior firearm offense. He received an additional consecutive sentence of 13.5 years to the five-year sentence after admitting to violating based on his guilty plea to the firearm offense.

 

Davis is a repeat gun offender and a convicted felon as a result of his prior conviction for possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Both prior offenses prohibit him from possessing a handgun.

 

State’s Attorney Charlie Smith commented, “This defendant has had numerous opportunities to turn his life around. Judge Solt’s strong sentence will serve to protect our community from someone who has shown a disregard for the safety of those around him.”

 

The investigation leading to the arrest and indictment of Davis was a coordinated effort led by the Frederick Police Department in consultation with the State’s Attorney’s Office under the Maryland Criminal Intelligence Network (MCIN). The Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services provides grant funding and strategic support to MCIN member sites to identify, disrupt, and dismantle criminal organizations through interagency coloration and data sharing to make Maryland safer.

 

The State was represented by Chief Assistant State’s Attorney Rebecca Clinton. The lead investigator was Frederick Police Department Detective Yackovich.

 

Mekhi Caire Davis

 

UPDATE: MONROVIA MAN SENTENCED IN FELONY DOMESTIC ASSAULT

Frederick, MD– Sentencing was held this morning for Everett Leroy Barton Jr. following his conviction for 1st Degree Assault by a Frederick jury June 3, 2021. Judge Scott Rolle sentenced Barton to 25 years suspend all but 15 years active incarceration in the Division of Corrections. He must also serve 5 years supervised probation upon release, to include GPS monitoring. The Maryland sentencing guidelines for the defendant were 2-7 years. The State requested 10 years active prison time. In Judge Rolle’s decision to go well above guidelines, he cited “protecting the victim” and “the facts” in this case.
State’s Attorney Charlie Smith commented, ““Strangulation is a terrifying form of abuse, and strongly linked to future risk of intimate partner homicide. Offenders that prey on those more vulnerable are the worst, and should receive these harsher penalties.”
Smith added, “Barton had zero remorse, only telling the Court at sentencing that he was “sorry the jury didn’t believe him”. The State and the Victim asked the Court for a sentence that would give her justice and protection and the Court did just that.”
The State was represented by Assistant State’s Attorney Brett Engler.
PREVIOUS RELEASE:
June 3, 2021

FREDERICK, MD – This afternoon in Frederick County Circuit Court, a Frederick County jury found Everett Leroy Barton Jr., age 61, of Monrovia, MD guilty of 1st Degree Assault and 2nd Degree Assault.

 

On April 19, 2020 at approximately 11:00pm, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to the 3700 block of Blueberry Drive in Monrovia for the report of a domestic incident. Responding deputies determined that the defendant and his wife, the victim, had been involved in an altercation when the Defendant accused her of infidelity.

 

During the course of the altercation, the defendant grabbed the Victim by her arms, and strangled her, and punched two holes through a wall on either side of her head as he held her neck. A family member intervened, and Barton proceeded upstairs, grabbed a knife from the kitchen and threatened the victim. The victim sustained injuries consistent with strangulation, as well as injuries to her arms.

 

 

State’s Attorney Charlie Smith commented, “Domestic violence is a huge problem both locally and nationally. It is critical that we hold domestic abusers accountable and provide protection to victims of these acts. According to the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, victims are 750% more likely to be killed by their abuser if they have previously been strangled. That statistic is not only shocking, but proves the important of domestic violence prosecution.”

 

 

 

Monrovia Man Found Guilty of Felony Domestic Assault

FREDERICK, MD – This afternoon in Frederick County Circuit Court, a Frederick County jury found Everett Leroy Barton Jr., age 61, of Monrovia, MD guilty of 1st Degree Assault and 2nd Degree Assault.

 

On April 19, 2020 at approximately 11:00pm, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to the 3700 block of Blueberry Drive in Monrovia for the report of a domestic incident. Responding deputies determined that the defendant and his wife, the victim, had been involved in an altercation when the Defendant accused her of infidelity.

 

During the course of the altercation, the defendant grabbed the Victim by her arms, and strangled her, and punched two holes through a wall on either side of her head as he held her neck. A family member intervened, and Barton proceeded upstairs, grabbed a knife from the kitchen and threatened the victim. The victim sustained injuries consistent with strangulation, as well as injuries to her arms.

 

 

State’s Attorney Charlie Smith commented, “Domestic violence is a huge problem both locally and nationally. It is critical that we hold domestic abusers accountable and provide protection to victims of these acts. According to the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, victims are 750% more likely to be killed by their abuser if they have previously been strangled. That statistic is not only shocking, but proves the important of domestic violence prosecution.”

 

 

The Honorable Judge Scott Rolle scheduled sentencing for June 24, 2021 at 9am.

 

 

The State was represented by Assistant State’s Attorney Brett Engler.

 

 

Everett Leroy Barton Jr.

FCSAO COMPLETES INVESTIGATION OF OCTOBER POLICE-INVOLVED SHOOTING IN EMMITSBURG

FREDERICK, MD- The Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office (FCSAO) has completed its review of an officer-involved shooting incident that occurred on October 19, 2020 at approximately 2:42pm in the area of 47 Park Drive in Emmitsburg, MD involving a deputy from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and a trooper from the Pennsylvania State Police. This officer-involved shooting occurred in relation to the apprehension of David Leatherman, the co-defendant of the deceased Bryan Selmer, and did not result in injury.  The FCSAO’s review focused exclusively on whether criminal charges relating to the law enforcement officers’ conduct are warranted.

 

After the review of all available evidence and application of expert opinion to that evidence, the FCSAO declines to bring criminal charges against the two officers involved. This decision is based entirely on the relevant criminal laws and standards of proof in Maryland and does not limit administrative action by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office or civil actions where less stringent laws, rules, and legal standards of proof apply. The FCSAO’s authority extends only to criminal matters and as such we express no opinion regarding the propriety or likelihood of success of any non-criminal actions.

 

FULL REPORT:

DECLINATION – Emmitsburg 1st Shooting