Prosecutor says suspect fooled police


January 24, 2007|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,sun reporter

A Jessup man "sold police on" a story that he'd been caught in a robbery, but officers failed to factor in his K-Y Jelly, latex gloves, condoms and more that pointed to an attempted rape, an Anne Arundel County prosecutor said yesterday.

"This is the strangest case I've been a part of," said attorney David Putzi, after testimony ended in the trial of his client, James E. Darnell. "It's the state saying the police were not doing their job, the state saying they missed something."

Arguing the police investigation was "flawed to its core," Putzi told Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck that Darnell was guilty only of the original charges.

Assistant State's Attorney Pamela K. Alban told the judge that Darnell, 28, followed a 23-year-old mother home in Odenton on the morning of Feb. 13, forced his way inside on a ruse of needing jumper cables - his car was parked around the block - and demanded to know if she was home alone as he choked her, wearing latex gloves.

"His pants were unzipped. He had condoms in his wallet," she said. "He had K-Y Jelly in his pocket, not a weapon."

The woman's husband testified that he awoke to his wife's scream, fought with Darnell and held him for police.

Police said Darnell confessed to pushing his way into the home so he could rob the woman and charged him with burglary, attempted robbery and two misdemeanor assault counts. They allowed the lubricating jelly taken from his pocket to land in a jail garbage can.

While police testified that they saw the jar, only a container to depict its size represented it in court. A police officer also did not initially note that Darnell's pants were unzipped when she prepared to take him from the house. Later that week, after Darnell posted a reduced bond and left jail, a charge of felony assault was added; police alleged he'd choked his victim. The Jessup man was back in jail. The next month, a grand jury added two attempted rape and other counts in a 10-count indictment.

Despite Alban telling the judge that Darnell's intentions were "of raping her, not of robbery," attempted robbery remains among Darnell's nine charges. At the defense's request, a reckless endangerment count was dismissed.

Putzi didn't call any witness or offer an explanation for the items Darnell had. Closing arguments are today.

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