Judge drops assault, weapons charges against woman in violent marriage Couple exchanged theft accusations COUNTYWIDE

November 05, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

Mary Ann Robertson piled a couch, a metal cabinet, a television and a small refrigerator against her apartment door when her estranged husband demanded to be let inside.

Having been married to Robert Dwayne Robertson for nearly four years, she knew of his anger and history of violence. She warned him that she had an 8-inch butcher knife in her hand, and she was prepared to use it if he broke down the door.

"I was scared," she said in District Court yesterday. "Whenever he would get angry, he would hit me."

But she wasn't a witness testifying against her estranged husband -- who was under a Circuit Court order to leave her and her children alone -- for the April 30 incident.

The 22-year-old mother of two was the defendant, charged with intent to use a deadly weapon, assault and battery stemming from the altercation.

She was also charged with theft and malicious destruction by Mr. Robertson, who claimed that his wife damaged his car and stole several items from it on May 26.

The charges weren't filed until July, when Mr. Robertson lodged a criminal complaint. The complaint came after he had been arrested over several incidents of breaking and entering in the Westminster area and jailed until he could post bond.

"I believe the motivation for these charges against my client are clear," Assistant Public Defender Judson K. Larrimore told District Judge Donald M. Smith. "I find it incredibly difficult that this woman, who was protecting herself in her own home, would be prosecuted by the state."

Judge Smith agreed, and he dropped all of the charges against Mrs. Robertson.

According to testimony in the hourlong trial, the couple argued on the afternoon of April 30 over portraits of their children. Robert Robertson left her Taneytown apartment but came back around 8 p.m. and attempted to break into the house.

After Mrs. Robertson hit him in the back with the knife, he fled. Taneytown Police Officer Randy Mohney responded to Mrs. Robertson's call and interviewed her. He then tracked down Mr. Robertson.

During the interview, Mrs. Robertson told Officer Mohney of several items in her apartment that she believed were stolen by her husband. No charges were brought against either party that night.

Mr. Robertson was arrested and charged with several burglary, breaking and entering and theft counts on May 26. Those charges were dropped by the state in September.

Mrs. Robertson's story was corroborated by the officer's testimony yesterday, the judge said before he made his ruling.

Assistant State's Attorney Lonnie Marchibroda repeatedly asked Mr. Robertson to give details of the nights of April 30 and May 26, but his account was inconsistent. He mixed up the events of both dates, and admitted several times to not knowing details. On the night of May 26, he alleged to have witnessed Mrs. Robertson's theft from and damage to his car. However, he was in jail pending a bail review hearing that night.

During his cross-examination, Mr. Larrimore also elicited inconsistent answers from Mr. Robertson.

"I'm getting a little tripped up on details," Mr. Robertson said.

"I bet you are," Mr. Larrimore responded.

Before the case went to the judge, Mr. Larrimore told Judge Smith that he "was representing the victim in this case. Mr. Robertson has a history of abuse so violent, and Mrs. Robertson was supposed to be under the court's protection."

Ms. Marchibroda defended the prosecution of the case after the judge's verdict.

"This is one of those cases that has to be tried," she said.

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