Carroll County State's Attorney Jerry Barnes dismissed charges against a couple accused in the stabbing death of a Hampstead man in September 2010, saying fault lies with the Carroll County Sheriff's Department.
The trial was set to begin Monday, March 12.
Barnes said in a court document that the sheriff's department made errors in the murder investigation that made prosecution nearly impossible.
"...We have reached a point in this case wherein we can no longer legally or ethically overcome the consequences of unconstitutional police procedures utilized in the investigation of these cases, that have resulted in this Court's rightful suppression of the evidence necessary to proceed," Barnes said in a court document.
The sheriff's department declined comment regarding its conduct in the homicide case, saying that all inquiries were being addressed by the county state's attorney's office. The county state's attorney's office declined further comment.
However, in court documents, the prosecutor's criticism of the sheriff's department was scathing.
"The damaging law enforcement conduct that has deprived our office of the evidence required to proceed with these cases was both avoidable and inexcusable, casting an unfortunate cloud over law enforcement in this county that will long be remembered by all, especially the public at large," Barnes said.
Barnes pointed out procedural and decision-making errors on the part of the Sheriff's Department during the murder investigation that would hinder the prosecution.
"This disastrous course of conduct began with the Sheriff's Department's foolish, ego-driven rejection of the Maryland State Police offer of full assistance in the investigation as well as a willful failure to call our office [State's Attorney] for legal advice," Barnes said.
On Sept. 13, 2010 Jeremiah DeMario of Hampstead was stabbed to death in his apartment building. Neighbors Russell Scott Laderer and Cassandra Lynn Glover were implicated.
According to court documents, Laderer was charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and carrying a weapon with intent to cause harm. Glover was charged with obstructing a police officer and accessory after the fact.
In the document Barnes submitted to the court, he concluded with the statement, "There is no statute of limitations on this homicide and we will work tirelessly to ultimately secure justice and some degree of closure of this tragic event."