MSP of­fi­cer ac­quit­ted in off-duty as­sault cases

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CARL HAMIL­TON

— A Mary­land State Po­lice cor­po­ral has been cleared of as­sault charges stem­ming from two off-duty in­ci­dents that oc­curred at his res­i­dence near Ris­ing Sun last year and in­volved his live-in girl­friend, with whom he has a son.

Re­tired Judge J. Fred­er­ick Price ac­quit­ted the de­fen­dant, Ethan Brown, 34, of two counts of se­cond-de­gree as­sault, the sole charges, Mon­day at the con­clu­sion of a three-hour-long trial in Ce­cil County Cir­cuit Court.

In de­liv­er­ing his “not guilty” ver­dicts, Price ex­plained that the state “quite sim­ply” had not met its “bur­den of proof be­yond a rea­son­able doubt.”

A 12-year MSP vet­eran who was as­signed to the Water­loo Bar­rack in Jes­sup at the time of

ELKTON

ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­whig.com the in­ci­dents, Brown has been sus­pended with pay since April 19, when he was charged by the Ce­cil County State’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice by way of crim­i­nal in­for­ma­tion af­ter a seven-month-long MSP in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Brown was not ar­rested but, in­stead, was is­sued a crim­i­nal sum­mons.

MSP of­fi­cials, who had re­ported in May that Brown was un­der an In­ter­nal Af­fairs Unit in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­lat­ing to the in­ci­dents, could not be reached Tues­day morn­ing for com­ment on how the ac­quit­tals would af­fect his sta­tus with the agency.

Brown stood ac­cused of as­sault­ing Kris­ten Brown, now 32, in the late af­ter­noon of May 5, 2015, in the back­yard of his home in the 500 block of Joseph Biggs High­way and in the kitchen of that res­i­dence on June 27, some seven weeks later.

They have the same last name but are not re- lated. They had lived to­gether at Ethan’s res­i­dence for ap­prox­i­mately four years, with their com­mon child and two chil­dren Kris­ten Brown had dur­ing a pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ship.

In his open­ing and clos­ing ar­gu­ments, Brown’s de­fense lawyer, C. Thomas Brown, an Elk­ton­based at­tor­ney who isn’t re­lated to ei­ther party, cat­e­go­rized this as a “he-said-she-said” case and main­tained that “these al­le­ga­tions are all about cus­tody.”

Specif­i­cally, he noted that Kris­ten Brown did not file a pro­tec­tive or­der against Ethan Brown un­til July 2015 — the same month that she filed for cus­tody of their son. Ethan Brown now has le­gal cus­tody of their son, which Kris­ten Brown con­ceded to him, and she has visi­ta­tion rights,

ac­cord­ing to Thomas Brown and court tes­ti­mony.

Deputy State’s At­tor­ney Steven L. Tros­tle, how­ever, coun­tered that Kris­ten Brown did not file the doc­u­ments un­til af­ter she had moved out of Ethan Brown’s res­i­dence and into a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence shel­ter, con­tend­ing that she took the ac­tion only af­ter she felt safe to do so.

Tros­tle also chal­lenged Thomas Brown’s “he-said­she-said” de­scrip­tion of the crim­i­nal case be­cause a nearby neigh­bor, Alice Leighton, wit­nessed the back­yard in­ci­dent on May 5, 2015, from her prop­erty and took pho­to­graphs of bruises on Kris­ten Brown’s shoul­ders, arms and other parts of her body the next day.

Although no one wit­nessed the in­ci­dent in­side the cou­ple’s kitchen on June 27, 2015, Leighton also took pho­to­graphs of Kris­ten Brown’s bruises the day af­ter that in­ci­dent, ac­cord­ing to Tros­tle and tes­ti­mony from Leighton and Kris­ten Brown.

But Thomas Brown ar­gued that those pho­to­graphs, which Tros­tle had de­scribed as “com­pelling” be­fore sub­mit­ting them as trial ex­hibits, had not been au­then­ti­cated by law en­force­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tors or by physi­cians.

“There was no med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion,” Thomas Brown told the judge.

Thomas Brown also main­tained that Leighton and his client did not get along be­cause they had had a prop­erty line dis­pute re­lat­ing to the place­ment of a fence in the past.

Kris­ten Brown tes­ti­fied that Ethan Brown was an­gry af­ter learn­ing that Leighton had got­ten Kris­ten Brown’s son from a pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ship off the school bus on the af­ter­noon of May 5, 2015, be­cause she was run­ning late re­turn­ing from a doc­tor’s ap­point­ment. Ethan Brown was not at home.

Ac­cord­ing to Kris­ten Brown’s tes­ti­mony, Ethan Brown was drunk and ar­gu­men­ta­tive when she got home. Kris­ten tes­ti­fied that he had been mow­ing grass that day, which he did as a side job.

She tes­ti­fied that they had been ar­gu­ing for about 30 min­utes when Ethan Brown grabbed her arms, pinned her against a trailer and bent her back over it, hold­ing her there for sev­eral min­utes be­fore she was able to break free.

The in­ci­dent oc­curred while Ethan Brown’s par­ents, who live nearby, were in­side Ethan Brown’s house, she tes­ti­fied.

Leighton tear­fully tes­ti­fied that she was wash­ing dishes when she looked out her kitchen win­dow and no­ticed the cou­ple ar­gu­ing heat­edly in the back­yard.

“He grabs her and shoves her over the back of the util­ity trailer,” Leighton said, adding that the scene made her walk to her back stoop to get a closer look, ex­plain­ing that she wanted to “make sure” be­fore calling po­lice.

She then saw Ethan Brown walk­ing away to­ward an out­build­ing and Kris­ten Brown “bawl­ing her eyes out” in the back­yard.

Leighton did not call the po­lice, how­ever, even af­ter tak­ing pho­to­graphs of Kris­ten Brown’s pur­ported in­juries the next day, she tes­ti­fied.

“She was bruised from head to toe,” Leighton tes­ti­fied, sec­onds af­ter cry­ing, “All be­cause I got a baby (child) off the bus.”

Ethan Brown tes­ti­fied, how­ever, that he never touched Kris­ten Brown dur­ing their ar­gu­ment. He con­tended that she cursed and screamed while he re­mained calm. Ethan Brown also tes­ti­fied that, shortly be­fore the dis­pute, he had re­turned home in his MSP uni­form af­ter work­ing dayshift and that he had not been drink­ing. Ethan Brown had changed into civil­ian clothes be­fore the dis­pute started, he tes­ti­fied.

His tes­ti­mony mir­rored an ac­count give by his fa­ther, Regi­nald Brown, who tes­ti­fied that Kris­ten Brown cursed loudly and flailed her arms while his son stood still with his hands in his pock­ets and then with his arms crossed.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors did not in­ter­view Regi­nald Brown, who also had tes­ti­fied that his wife was not at the res­i­dence dur­ing the in­ci­dent.

Ethan Brown said he was up­set when he learned that his fa­ther had to be sum­moned to watch Kris­ten Brown’s son, be­cause she wasn’t at home, and that Leighton had got­ten the boy off the bus. Aware that Kris­ten Brown had no means of trans­porta­tion and that their in-com­mon son was with her, he won­dered where they had gone and who had driven them, he added.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CARL HAMIL­TON

Clad in tac­ti­cal gear, three of­fi­cers walk away from the New East­ern Inn at one point dur­ing the op­er­a­tion.

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