Circuit Court to hear officer's assault case

Howard police corporal accused by estranged wife in two incidents

April 23, 2002|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

The aggravated assault case against a Howard County police corporal who had his police powers suspended in a domestic incident involving his estranged wife has been moved to Howard County Circuit Court for trial.

Prosecutors had 30 days after a March 22 hearing in Howard District Court to drop the charges or file papers in Circuit Court against Cpl. Michael K. Williams in a case that has sparked accusations of political agendas and bias.

Howard State's Attorney Marna L. McLendon signed off on a six-count criminal information late last week at the request of Carroll prosecutors, who were specially appointed to handle the charges at the District Court level. McLendon's office has asked that Carroll prosecutors also be assigned the Circuit Court case.

No trial date had been set as of yesterday.

"We take our obligation to effectively prosecute this type of case very seriously ... regardless of who is involved either as a victim or a defendant," Carroll County State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes said yesterday. Barnes said he could not "go into further depth" about the pending case.

The case, which involves assault, obstruction of justice and handgun charges and an allegation that the officer threatened his wife at gunpoint Oct. 20, is one of two related domestic violence cases pending against Williams but the only one involving a felony charge. The other case, which was filed first and charges misdemeanor assault, also might be elevated to Circuit Court, Barnes said.

Obstruction alleged

Williams' attorney, Clarke Ahlers, alleged yesterday that it is Carroll prosecutors, not his client, who are obstructing justice by "blinding themselves to the evidence" developed by Howard police. He said his client also has offered to speak with the Carroll investigator handling the case but has been rebuffed.

"It's un-American not to get both sides of the story," he said. "The basic ... process starts with the premise that a prosecutor won't accuse anybody without trying to learn the facts."

During last month's preliminary hearing, a Carroll prosecutor said the Howard County Police Department was biased in favor of its officer in its investigation of the allegations. Elizabeth Williams, not Howard County police, filed both sets of charges against Michael Williams.

Yesterday, Barnes said police and prosecutors traditionally work together for an "appropriate outcome ... and hopefully, that will happen in this case."

Placed on desk duty

Michael Williams was stripped of his police powers and placed on desk duty after Howard police were called to the couple's Columbia Road apartment in August to investigate allegations that the officer bit his wife and slammed her against a table.

When police had not filed charges against her husband a week later, Elizabeth Williams sought out a court commissioner and filed charges herself.

She did not call police after the October incident, in which she alleges that Michael Williams pointed his gun at her and told her to drop the August charges or "he would kill me."

Michael Williams later filed an assault charge against Elizabeth Williams, but a Carroll prosecutor dropped that case in January. Theft and malicious destruction charges filed by the officer against his wife are pending.

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