Teenager is acquitted of murder, robbery

CRIME WATCH

August 22, 2008

A Baltimore County jury acquitted Jason Michael Hammonds, 18, of murder and robbery charges yesterday in the death of a Dundalk man who was beaten during a burglary last year, a prosecutor said.

The jurors convicted Hammonds of fourth-degree burglary in the killing of Joseph Francis Hoffman, 51, whom police found dead in his apartment in the 200 block of S. Woodwell Road the day after the break-in.

A man who prosecutors say broke into the house with Hammonds pleaded guilty in February this year to first-degree murder in Hoffman's death.

Hammonds, of the 7200 block of Eastern Ave., was sentenced to three years in prison, said Assistant State's Attorney Lisa F. Dever. The time he has spent at the Baltimore County Detention Center since being arrested in February 2007 will count toward the sentence, Dever said.

Dominic Alan Strong, 19, of the 2500 block of W. Woodwell Road was sentenced in May to life without parole in the killing. Dever said Strong smashed Hoffman's skull with a flashlight.

Hammonds, who was 16 at the time of the break-in, was tried as an adult. The jury began deliberations Tuesday afternoon.

Hammonds' father, Danny Ray Hammonds, 52, was killed in 2007 by police serving a search warrant on the family's home after Hoffman's death. Police said the elder Hammonds went to pick up a rifle and ignored an officer's demands to stop.

kevin.rector@baltsun.com

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