Police captain defends method of investigating fellow officer

Corporal is on trial facing charges of assaulting wife

September 18, 2002|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

Prosecutors questioned the methods yesterday of the local police official who investigated a Howard County police corporal accused of abusing his wife, suggesting that the veteran officer treated the defendant differently because he was a colleague.

The questioning of police Capt. Greg Marshall came at the end of a full day of testimony in the trial of Cpl. Michael K. Williams, 41, on assault and obstruction-of-justice charges in a case that has featured accusations of political agendas and police bias.

Marshall, who said he investigated Williams and his wife, Elizabeth M. Williams, over a series of months, insisted yesterday that he conducted a thorough investigation and said he did not find "probable cause that [Michael Williams] committed a crime."

Elizabeth Williams, not police investigators, filed charges against Michael Williams, alleging that he assaulted her in their Columbia apartment on Aug. 26 last year and again on Oct. 20. She contends that he pointed a gun at her and threatened her during the second alleged incident.

Her two teen-age sons testified yesterday that each witnessed one of the incidents. A Howard police officer also testified that he saw what looked like a bite mark on Elizabeth Williams' shoulder after the Aug. 26 incident.

Michael Williams faces a maximum prison term of 25 years if convicted of the most serious charge, first-degree assault. He is on administrative duty, and his police powers are suspended.

Yesterday's questioning of Marshall by Carroll County prosecutor Natasha Byus, whose office was specially assigned to the case, came after defense attorney Clarke F. Ahlers had attempted to introduce testimony about past abuse reports that he alleged would show that Elizabeth Williams "has a reputation for untruthfulness."

Howard Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney ruled the testimony inadmissible.

Instead, Ahlers questioned Marshall about his attempts to question Elizabeth Williams - Marshall said she would not consent to an interview - and about whether he had treated Michael Williams differently because he was an officer. Marshall said he had not.

Elizabeth Williams had testified earlier yesterday that she did not believe Marshall was taking her allegations "seriously."

While jurors were out of the room, Ahlers told Sweeney that he believed Carroll prosecutors "thwarted" Marshall's investigation, which he said was done "perfectly." Ahler's argument was an unusual posture for the defense, which traditionally attacks the credibility of police files.

Later, Byus questioned the captain's delay in interviewing Michael Williams. Marshall's first interview with him was 10 days after police first took an assault report from Elizabeth Williams.

Byus also asked Marshall whether he and Michael Williams are friends.

"I would say he is more of a professional colleague," Marshall said.

Testimony is scheduled to resume this morning.

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