Hysterical witness now faces possible contempt charges

October 05, 1994|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,Sun Staff Writer

Distraught over testifying against her boyfriend in a domestic battery case, a pregnant woman lost control on the witness stand yesterday, threw her glasses at the prosecutor and then collapsed in Baltimore County District Court in Towson.

Crying and complaining of pains in her side, Tracy Hope Nelons was taken from the courtroom on a stretcher as the judge warned her that she might be the one to go to jail -- for contempt of court.

Her 25-year-old boyfriend, Charles Paige, was acquitted of the charges. He was arrested in June after Ms. Nelons said he fired a gun at her during an argument in their Hillendale apartment.

Mr. Paige, a youth counselor at the Charles H. Hickey School, sat in the defendant's chair staring at the judge while Ms. Nelons, who is five months' pregnant, doubled over on the bench behind him.

Mr. Paige turned around once to ask the paramedics where they were taking her, then he turned back without saying anything to her.

Mr. Paige was acquitted of charges of assault, battery and assault with a deadly weapon, despite prosecution evidence that included a tape of a frantic 911 call on June 12 in which a hysterical Ms. Nelons told the operator that he had fired a gun at her in their apartment in the 6600 block of English Oak Road.

Although Ms. Nelons made the same charges in a complaint filed with the court commissioner hours later, yesterday she offered a different story, telling Judge Robert N. Dugan that Mr. Paige never pointed the gun at her or threatened her.

Mr. Paige testified that it was all a joke.

Prosecutor Lisa Fox-Dever, who was struck on the leg when Ms. Nelons threw her glasses from the witness stand, said she believed that the woman changed her story because she was frightened of Mr. Paige.

"Your honor, she's scared. It's obvious that she doesn't want to testify today," Mrs. Fox-Dever said. Her "testimony does not make any sense."

Maybe so, said Judge Dugan, but there wasn't enough evidence to convict beyond a reasonable doubt. "Her emotional behavior may be based on fear, but I can't be sure of that," he said.

In the end, Ms. Nelons could be the one who goes to jail.

Judge Dugan, visibly angry, told Ms. Nelons as she was being wheeled out of the courtroom that she has to return to court on Oct. 13 to face possible contempt charges.

Ms. Nelons was treated at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center and released.

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