Assault charge won't proceed

State's attorneys say officer's claim against his wife is unfounded

January 17, 2002|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Carroll County state's attorneys decided yesterday not to prosecute a woman on an assault charge filed in November by her estranged husband, a Howard County police officer, calling it "unfounded and retaliatory."

Elizabeth Williams, 33, had earlier filed two sets of assault charges against police Cpl. Michael Williams, 40, including a claim that he had intimidated her with a handgun.

"It's very common in domestic violence cases for the true abuser to try to manipulate the criminal justice system to make the situation better in his case," said Carroll County Assistant State's Attorney Maria L. Oesterreicher. "We try not to let that happen."

A theft charge against Elizabeth Williams filed with the assault charge by Michael Williams is being investigated, prosecutors said.

Carroll County prosecutors said they will proceed with charges against Michael Williams, stemming from an alleged incident of domestic violence on Aug. 26 and another on Oct. 20. No court dates have been set.

Clarke Ahlers, Michael Williams' lawyer, has said Elizabeth Williams' charges against his client were filed "to resolve hurt feelings."

In an interview last week, Elizabeth Williams called the charges against her "vindictive."

"Look at the timing of it," she said. "He never filed anything against me until right after I filed more charges against him."

Police Chief Wayne Livesay suspended the police powers of Michael Williams, a 16-year veteran officer, after the August incident, police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said. Williams has been assigned to administrative duty since then, she said.

Michael Williams was arrested after the Oct. 20 incident and released on an unsecured bond.

A second-degree assault charge against Elizabeth Williams that was dropped yesterday stemmed from the Aug. 26 incident. It was filed by Michael Williams on Nov. 13, the same day Elizabeth Williams filed her second set of charges against him. Three days later -- the same day Michael Williams was served with an arrest warrant on a charge of first-degree assault, second-degree assault and intimidation, according to court documents -- Michael Williams charged Elizabeth Williams with theft and malicious destruction of property.

Those charges, all of which are pending, were filed in response to the Oct. 20 incident, during which, Elizabeth Williams said, Michael Williams pointed a handgun at her and demanded she drop a second-degree assault charge she filed against him after the Aug. 26 fight.

"That was the first time I had ever had a gun pointed at me," she said. "I was scared. I was in total shock." Her 15-year-old son witnessed the incident, she said.

According to a protective order Elizabeth Williams filled out Oct. 30, Michael Williams told her, "I better not do anything stupid with the charges from [the Aug. 26 incident], not to get in contact with the state's attorney or with anyone else about the charges."

The Aug. 26 incident involved Michael Williams' punching her and trying to choke her with a broomstick, according to charging documents. Michael Williams also tried to choke Elizabeth Williams' 14-year-old son, she said.

Officers who responded to a 911 call Elizabeth Williams placed that day took photos of the couples' Columbia apartment and injuries to Elizabeth Williams and her son, Oesterreicher said.

On Sept. 1, Elizabeth Williams filed the second-degree assault charge against her husband, but the couple later reconciled and she and her four children moved back in with him last fall, Elizabeth Williams said.

But Michael Williams continued to threaten his wife to drop the second-degree assault charge, she said.

At the end of October, Elizabeth Williams moved back into her mother's house and, she said, she decided not to call police about the gun incident since "they did nothing the first time."

Llewellyn has said that police had a difficult time setting up an interview with Elizabeth Williams and that she did not return repeated phone calls.

Staff writer Lisa Goldberg contributed to this article.

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