FREDERICK TEEN SENTENCED FOR ASSAULT, HATE CRIME CHARGES

FREDERICK, MD – This afternoon in Frederick County Circuit Court, the Honorable Judge Theresa Adams sentenced Corey Robert Welch, age 18, of Frederick, to a total of fifteen years in prison suspending all but four years in the Division of Corrections for 1st Degree Assault and Hate Crime charges. Welch must also serve five years supervised probation upon his release from prison. The defendant has been held in custody since the incident. This case was brought before the Frederick Grand Jury February 21, 2020 so that the then-17-year-old defendant could face charges in the adult system. The State was successful in keeping this case in adult court after Welch’s defense petitioned and argued to move the case to juvenile jurisdiction.

 

 

In the evening and early morning hours of February 15th and 16th, 2020, the victim and defendant were both attending a house party in the 6900 Block of Meadowlake Road in New Market. At some point in the evening, the defendant made comments toward the victim about what he perceived was the victim’s sexual orientation. Uncomfortable, the victim decided to leave the party and wait outside to be picked up by a ride-share driver. As the victim walked outside, the defendant tackled the victim from behind. Welch placed the victim in a headlock, and began strangling him while demanding his belongings.  Martin Gieser, the co-defendant, assisted by standing on the victim’s legs and holding him down.  The victim pleaded with Welch to take his belongings and stop the assault.  The victim reported losing consciousness three times during the attack as a result of being strangled.  Each time he would regain consciousness, Welch grew more and more irate, and began to beat the victim in the head.  The attack continued despite Welch and co-defendant Gieser obtaining the victim’s property.  After some time, the ride-share driver arrived on scene and observed Welch strangling and beating the victim. Welch approached the driver, and said they would be a few more minutes. Throughout the course of the attack, Welch repeatedly called the victim by anti-gay slurs.

 

On February 16, 2020 at approximately 12:37 am, deputies with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched for the report of the assault in progress. Deputies quickly located the victim and then positively identified both defendants as the perpetrators of the attack. Investigators determined the victim’s injuries were consistent with strangulation including red marks, swelling of the neck, and a raspy voice. Additionally, the victim sustained a concussion and leg injury.

 

The State believes that through evidence and witness accounts, Welch was motivated to attack this victim due to his perception of the victim’s sexual orientation. Assistant State’s Attorneys Laura Corbett Wilt and Will Prunka commented, “A Division of Correction sentence was appropriate for this crime.  Targeting a person because of their perceived sexual orientation is completely unacceptable.   The conviction and sentencing show our commitment to all members of the Frederick County community.  Welch’s actions caused not only physical injury, but psychological trauma that is clearly evident to this day. The victim and his family are satisfied that justice has been served and that this marks a moment of closure in this terrible ordeal.  ”

 

 

The State was represented by Juvenile Division Chief Laura Corbett Wilt and Assistant State’s Attorney Will Prunka.

 

 

####

 

State’s Attorney Charlie Smith Against Proposed Sentencing Modification Rule Change

FREDERICK, MD –  Today, State’s Attorney Charlie Smith sent a letter to members of the Rules Committee for the Maryland Court of Appeals to express his opposition to a proposed change in Rule 4-345, which gives the court the power of sentencing modification. Under a recent proposal, offenders receiving lengthy sentences for heinous crimes committed before the age of 25 or those that are 65 and older and deemed “not likely to be a danger to anyone if released” would be eligible for reconsideration of their sentence. Smith’s opposition to the change is driven by a strong desire to protect victims from the additional trauma of sentence modification hearings.

 

Smith wrote, “The age of the defendant at the time of the crime, or their age after they have served a significant portion of their sentence, has little import when compared to the devastating lifelong impact of these type crimes.  Parole already exists and, if appropriate, may be granted.  To change Rule 4-345 in the manner suggested is to chip away at a victim’s rights in the Criminal Justice System.”

 

LINK: Smith Letter to Rules Committee

 

UPDATE: FREDERICK FAIR WAIVER HEARING #2 JUDGE ISSUES WRITTEN OPINION IN 15-YEAR-OLD’S CASE

FREDERICK, MD – In a written legal opinion released today, Frederick Circuit Court Judge William R. Nicklas Jr. ruled that the 15-year-old respondent charged in connection with the Great Frederick Fair attack on John Weed September 20, 2019, will remain in the juvenile system. The respondent is charged with manslaughter, 1st degree assault, and 2nd degree assault.

After reviewing Judge Nicklas’ ruling, State’s Attorney Charlie Smith commented, “Prosecutors Rebecca Clinton and Laura Wilt worked very hard to provide a compelling argument for waiver. However, we have to respect the Judge’s ruling while continuing to seek justice for Mr. Weed’s family. Smith added, “This has been a sad situation that unfortunately has divided our community. We will continue to fight for the victim’s family, while respecting the decision.”

A waiver hearing was held on February 21st in which the State and defense presented arguments. A waiver hearing is a hearing in which the Court decides whether to grant or deny the State’s request to waive the juvenile to adult court jurisdiction.    The State filed waiver petitions on both juveniles charged in this case which alleged that based on a number of factors the particular youths should be tried as adults, rather than in juvenile court.  The factors the court considers include the seriousness and nature of the offense, public safety, age of the youth, mental and physical condition, and the youth’s alleged amenability to juvenile rehabilitative measures.

Judge Julie Solt ruled that both respondents charged in the Frederick Fair incident would have closed courtroom waiver hearings, meaning anyone not directly involved in the case is not permitted inside.  Judges often close the courtroom to the public for juvenile proceedings to protect the confidentiality of matters about the youth.

 

 

Both respondents in this case have now had waiver hearings and it has been determined that they will remain in the juvenile system.

 

Antonio Little Sentenced to Serve 25 Years for Distribution of Heroin

FREDERICK – Antonio Little, 44, of Frederick, MD appeared for sentencing today in the Circuit Court for Frederick County, Maryland for the charge of distribution of heroin.  The Honorable William R. Nicklas, Jr., concurring with the State’s recommended sentence, ordered Mr. Little to serve 25 years of incarceration in the Division of Correction.

On September 28, 2017, the Frederick Police Department responded to a residence on East Second Street in downtown Frederick for a suspected fatal drug overdose.  The scene indicated that the male victim had ingested heroin.  A subsequent autopsy revealed that he had died of a mixed drug intoxication, including heroin and fentanyl.  The Frederick Police Department’s Drug Enforcement Unit opened an investigation into the matter.  Investigators were able to confirm that Antonio Little and his codefendant, Tracy Frost, had conspired to supply heroin to the victim the night before. Mr. Little was the point of connection – he knew the overdose victim and communicated with him to set up the purchase of heroin. Mr. Little and his codefendant both were present and took part in the distribution on September 27, 2017.  Mr. Little plead guilty to distribution of heroin on July 17, 2018.

The State was represented by Assistant State’s Attorney Colleen K. Swanson.

J. Charles Smith, III

State’s Attorney for Frederick County, Maryland