Police officer accused of strangling his puppy But chief witness, his mother-in-law, apparently vanished

June 05, 1998|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A woman who accused a county police officer of strangling his puppy has vanished, apparently to avoid testifying against the officer -- who happens to be her son-in-law.

This has left frustrated prosecutors and investigators with a misdemeanor case in limbo and no way to force the officer or his wife to produce the woman in court.

Prosecutors have gotten the Circuit Court to issue a subpoena for Delores Guy, 65, to guarantee a court appearance.

"It's definitely a very bizarre case at this point," said Assistant State's Attorney Shelly A. Stickell.

Guy is the mother-in-law of Robert J. Hanlon Jr., 32, of the first block of Hoyle Lane in Severna Park. Hanlon, an officer since 1989, is charged with one count of mutilating his puppy. That misdemeanor is punishable by up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

"I don't believe there was foul play, in that harm has come to" Guy, Stickell said.

Last week, Hanlon's lawyer, Michael J. Belsky, told the court that Hanlon is not obligated to talk to police or help officials locate a witness against him.

This week, Belsky said he did not want to comment further.

Guy told police she saw Hanlon choke his 3-month-old Labrador-shepherd-mix puppy Oct. 25, then put the body in a trash can, according to court documents.

Accompanied by her mother, who lived with the couple, Teresa Hanlon took the puppy's body to the Eastern District police station, charging documents say.

Two days later, Hanlon was served a warrant and placed on administrative leave, police said.

This week, police said Hanlon is neither at work nor on administrative leave, but they would not discuss his status further.

On Jan. 16, Hanlon sought to take the case from District Court to Circuit Court for a jury trial. At the same time, defense lawyers told Stickell, the prosecutor, that Hanlon's wife would invoke her privilege not to testify against her husband. No similar privilege extends to mothers-in-law.

Stickell asked the family to wait so Circuit Court papers could be served. She wrote to the Circuit Court that Hanlon told her she "would have to try to serve the state's witnesses, after which he and the state's witnesses left the courthouse."

Deputies could not find Guy to subpoena her for a Jan. 20 Circuit Court date.

Last week, with animal control and police officers waiting to testify, the case was called. But Circuit Judge Clayton R. Greene Jr. gave the prosecution more time to find Guy.

This week, prosecutors met with investigators to figure out what to do before the next tentative trial date of July 8.

Guy lived with the Hanlons for about 10 years. She moved out in mid-January because "she said she did not want to be a witness," Hanlon's wife testified last week.

Teresa Hanlon said she had not seen or heard from her mother since but wasn't worried.

Said the judge: "In one day, that witness is gone from the face of the Earth? That doesn't sound right to me."

Pub Date: 6/05/98

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