Wit­ness’ death prompts state to drop Elkton child abuse case

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CARL HAMILTON ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­whig.com

ELKTON — Pros­e­cu­tors have dropped their case against a man who stood ac­cused of burn­ing his 2-year-old son with lit cig­a­rettes in­side an Elkton res­i­dence, cit­ing the death of a “crit­i­cal wit­ness” for the state — the woman who main­tained she had wit­nessed the al­leged child abuse, ac­cord­ing to the Ce­cil County State’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice.

As­sis­tant State’s At­tor­ney Nathaniel Bowen dis­missed all five charges against the de­fen­dant,

Matthew Thomas Hodg­son Jr., 32, of the unit block of Hollingswo­rth Manor in Elkton, on Sept. 3, court records show. The dis­missed charges in­cluded sec­ond-de­gree cus­to­dial child abuse, sec­ond­de­gree as­sault and child ne­glect, ac­cord­ing to court records.

Af­ter the hear­ing in which the state dropped its case against him, Hodg­son was re­leased from the Ce­cil County De­ten­tion Cen­ter, where he had spent three months as a pre-trial in­mate, court records show.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion started at ap­prox­i­mately 12:05 a.m. on June 5, af­ter Hodg­son’s live-in girl­friend – the mother of his child — walked into the Elkton Po­lice Depart­ment sta­tion on Rail­road Av­enue and re­ported that Hodg­son had as­saulted her in­side their res­i­dence, po­lice said.

As a re­sult of the al­leged as­sault, po­lice added, the woman suf­fered in­juries to her head.

While re­port­ing that al­leged as­sault in June, the woman also told an EPD de­tec­tive that she had wit­nessed Hodg­son as­sault their son, who turns 3 in De­cem­ber, on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions dur­ing the past month, po­lice re­ported.

As a re­sult of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the child was placed into a “li­censed Ce­cil County foster home,” an ac­tion that was part of an in­ter­ven­tion, po­lice re­ported at the time.

Court records in­di­cate that Hodg­son’s jury trial had been sched­uled to start on Feb. 3.

How­ever, af­ter learn­ing that Hodg­son’s live-in girl­friend had died at some point af­ter his ar­rest — leav­ing the state with­out piv­otal eye­wit­ness tes­ti­mony to present at trial — pros­e­cu­tors elected to dis­miss all charges against Hodg­son, ex­plained Steven Bar­low, a SAO in­ves­ti­ga­tor and spokesman.

HODG­SON

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