Judge drops harassment charges in college fight

2 assault counts remain

trial set to begin Monday


March 19, 2004|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

A Carroll County judge has dropped charges of racial or religious harassment against a McDaniel College student who is accused of being involved in a campus brawl with racial overtones.

Nicholaos G. Alevrogiannis, 23, of Westminster, a fifth-year student and a former standout football player at McDaniel, still faces two counts of second-degree assault. He is scheduled for trial Monday.

In a decision Wednesday, Circuit Court Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. wrote that the word "harass" was unconstitutionally vague in that the state did not spell out the defendant's alleged intent in the charging documents. Therefore, Beck dismissed two charges of racial or religious harassment.

Alevrogiannis is accused of using racial slurs during a confrontation Nov. 6 that led to a fight that left sophomore Stuart Johnson with a broken finger and 40 stitches to close a wound to his jaw and neck, according to court documents.

Another student, Thomas E. "Scoots" Crowell, 24, of Brinklow in Montgomery County, was named in charging documents as one of several men who attacked Johnson and Daniel Silva, both African-American sophomores at the college. Alevrogiannis and Crowell are both white.

Silva received minor injuries, documents showed.

Earlier this month, Beck rejected the prosecution's request for one trial for Alevrogiannis and Crowell, and said they will be tried separately.

Crowell's defense attorney, Paul Kemp, argued that there was no evidence that Crowell uttered a racial epithet against Johnson and Silva. The inflammatory nature of the alleged slurs that precipitated the event would reflect unfairly on his client, Kemp said.

According to the charging documents, the fight began as an exchange on a bus filled with college students returning from a Baltimore nightclub, but it escalated into a fistfight on campus.

The documents state that Alevrogiannis referred to the Ku Klux Klan, spelled out the word "hang" and told the two black students that he would make them "bite the curb." That phrase is an apparent reference to a scene in the movie American History X, in which a white supremacist forces a black man to lie on a street and open his mouth on a concrete curb before stomping on the back of the man's head.

Crowell initially was charged with two counts of second-degree assault, one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree assault and two counts of racial or religious harassment.

David P. Daggett, deputy state's attorney for Carroll County, said at a hearing this month that the state is dropping two counts of racial or religious harassment and one count of second-degree assault against Crowell. Daggett also said the state will drop a charge against Alevrogiannis of conspiracy to commit assault.

Crowell's trial is scheduled next month.

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