179 days in jail, then case ends

November 15, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

Thirteen months after accusing Jonathan Todd Jarboe of robbing a Westminster pizza deliveryman at gunpoint, Carroll prosecutors yesterday dropped all their charges against him.

Instead of proceeding with the jury trial that was to start yesterday, prosecutors asked the court to dismiss the nine criminal charges that had kept the 23-year-old Eldersburg man behind bars 179 days since his arrest in October 1993.

Mr. Jarboe and his father said they are pleased that the case is over, but they continue to be upset by the way the state handled the matter.

"To get at the truth, we really needed our day in court," Robert E. Jarboe, Jonathan's father, said.

"The lie has lived for more than a year. My son has spent 179 days in jail and a ruined reputation."

The defendant and his attorney had made three unsuccessful attempts to have the charges thrown out because prosecutors had failed to produce their key witness for trial. On all three occasions, Carroll judges denied the requests, but prodded prosecutors to find their witness.

The witness -- Angela Bailey, an acquaintance of Mr. Jarboe's -- allegedly told Westminster police the younger Mr. Jarboe had bragged to her of the robbery.

She told police what she had heard, but she thought it was in the form of an anonymous tip, her attorney and parents have asserted.

Shortly after her tip -- given nearly a month after a Domino's Pizza deliveryman told police he was robbed of $150 at gunpoint -- Westminster officers charged Jonathan Jarboe in the crime.

The younger Mr. Jarboe spent the following year in and out of the Carroll County Detention Center on bonds ranging from unsecured to a half-million dollars after he was accused of harassing and intimidating Ms. Bailey.

Prosecutors have said -- in arguments before at least two Carroll judges and in court filings -- that Mr. Jarboe's threats against Ms. Bailey caused her to disappear in April.

Her whereabouts remained unknown yesterday, according to her attorney, Charles Michael Preston.

At each postponement request, Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III said the reason for Ms. Bailey's disappearance was Mr. Jarboe's alleged threats, and that is why the case should be postponed.

Agreement from bench

After one hearing, a judge agreed with that assessment, although Mr. Jarboe had not been convicted of or tried on intimidation charges.

Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. agreed with Mr. Walker that "the separate offenses are unquestionably linked by a common motive." During a hearing in July, Mr. Walker was asked whether he had any other evidence linking Mr. Jarboe to the robbery or to the intimidation charges; the prosecutor said yes, but did not elaborate. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The elder Mr. Jarboe said he is baffled that his son could be arrested and charged -- and jailed for more than six months -- on the sole recollections of an acquaintance who can't be produced to testify.

"This is how citizens lose faith in the criminal justice system," the elder Mr. Jarboe said. "The moral high ground was absolutely abandoned here."

For his son, the matter has left bitter feelings. Admitting to his three prior criminal convictions -- two assaults and a juvenile charge -- Jonathan Jarboe said he is far from a model citizen.

He and his father both readily talk of Jonathan's trouble with crack, but say he has not used the drug since September 1993.

"I've made some mistakes, but I've never put a gun to anybody's head," Jonathan Jarboe said. "I really wanted to prove I was innocent. Now, some people might think I had a lucky day, that I lucked out."

Plea deals rejected

Mr. Jarboe and his father said prosecutors had offered more than a half-dozen plea deals during the case.

The last offer -- confirmed by his public defender, Martha Ann Sitterding -- was made Sunday evening: Mr. Jarboe would plead guilty to witness intimidation in exchange for a suspended five-year prison sentence and probation.

The offer was rejected.

With yesterday's dismissal, the robbery of Christopher Bell remains unsolved.

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