Probation violated in Howard County neighbor feud

November 08, 2008|By Tyeesha Dixon

A judge has determined that a Howard County man embroiled in a long-running neighborhood feud violated his probation in an assault case that stemmed from him spitting at his neighbor in 2006, prosecutors said.

The incident came after a nearly decade-long dispute between Timothy and Barbara Cerny and David and Donna Elliott, who live on Swift Current Way in Columbia.

The feud spawned more than a dozen criminal cases, as well as civil court proceedings, and resulted in county police responding to the upscale River Hill neighborhood more than 100 times.

The dispute began years ago when the Cernys sought to alter the design plan for their lot and move the house to make room for a backyard pool.

The Elliots objected, saying the shift would have created the appearance that the pool was in their front yard.

The Elliotts then filed protests with their community association about items on the Cernys' property, including pine trees and lawn chairs. That led to lawsuits and eventually assault allegations by both couples.

In April 2006, David Elliott filed a police report, including photographs, claiming that Timothy Cerny spat at him. Cerny was convicted of second-degree assault and served two days in jail. But a judge later rescinded the conviction, changing it to probation before judgment, after Cerny said that a criminal record would hinder his ability to continue working as a financial adviser.

But earlier this year, Elliott claimed Cerny violated a term of his probation that barred contact with Elliott and submitted video footage, said Wayne Kirwan, spokesman for the county state's attorney's office.

On Wednesday, District Judge Neil Axel restored the guilty verdict for second-degree assault but assigned no further jail time or probation, Kirwan said.

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