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Violent crime keeps county prosecutor busy heading into second term – Archive – Frederick News-Post

April 10, 2015
Author’s Note:

Okay, Folks! This is the guy who was too busy running for his next term in office to even attempt to get an indictment on a convicted domestic violence felon in possession of firearms and ammunition in Frederick County, Maryland. And he wasn’t alone: Count Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, a State Trooper and “ATF Liason” and a Detective from the Sheriff’s Office in on the conspiracy. He even went so far as to allow him to keep them in his possession from October 2010 through June 2011 before “letting him go.” The man’s crime crime carries a mandated prison sentence of seven years per offense for each weapon and ammunition found in his possession. There is no statute of limitations for this crime. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock…

Violent crime keeps county prosecutor busy heading into second term. Charlie Smith says gangs, troubled youth are factors in rise in cases.

Kate Leckie News-Post Staff | Posted Jan 2, 2011

In four years, he has sent six defendants to prison for murder on sentences that range from 30 years to life plus 20 years, including a 66-year-old Frederick man found guilty of first-degree murder for killing his estranged wife.

On Monday, State’s Attorney Charlie Smith will raise his right hand during a brief ceremony in Circuit Courtroom 1 and promise to continue to protect the lives and well-being of Frederick County residents during a second term in office.

He reflected on that responsibility — and the recent trends in crime — as he prepares to begin that term.

So far, one murder case, involving the Nov. 28 death of an infant in Brunswick, is headed to trial in 2011.

Smith concedes the county is fortunate that number is not higher.

“We have been getting stabbings, shootings and robberies, and they seem to be occurring on an almost-daily basis,” Smith said.

A Frederick store owner remains hospitalized in serious condition more than a month after he was shot in the chest Nov. 27 during an attempted armed robbery at the International Market on West Patrick Street.

One of three robbers who entered the store shot Miguel Benitez, 51, as he struggled to keep them out of the cash register, police said.

“Despite a big increase in gun crimes, including robberies, we have not seen a consequent rise in murders,” Smith said. “But the number of serious violent crimes that are occurring is much more than we were seeing five years ago.”

One reason for the increase in serious crime can be attributed to population growth. But Smith believes a bigger part of the problem is a surge in gang activity and the fact that more youths and young adults, ages 16 to 24, are committing violent crime.

Another trend that cannot be ignored: Hispanic people are more frequently becoming victims of crime.

“We have to wonder whether they are targeted because they would be less likely to cooperate or come forward” if their residency status is in doubt, Smith said.

Two of Smith’s prosecutors, Ed Lulie and Jason S. Shoemaker, meet regularly with local police and community leaders in an effort to combat gangs and crime.

“We want to be proactive,” Smith said. “While we want to prosecute offenders and put them in jail, we also want to prevent crime from happening in the first place.”

Since Frederick County launched its Exile program in April 2009, about a dozen people have been prosecuted federally for gun crimes, Lulie said.

Project Exile is a coordinated effort by local, state and federal agencies to fight violent crime, especially gun crimes involving repeat offenders.

While Smith and his prosecutors have taken a number of serious cases to trial during his first term — including murders, attempted murders, rapes, first-degree assaults and child sex offenses — the majority of defendants accept plea agreements as their trial dates approach.

Because there’s no way of knowing what a jury will decide, Smith said it would be foolish not to allow a defendant to accept a plea offer if it involves a maximum or near-maximum sentence.

“We’ve been very successful in our prosecutions,” Smith said. “We have a great track record, and defendants see that. Police do a great job by giving us all we need to prosecute our cases.”

Smith’s first term included a variety of cases that drew crowds into courtrooms to watch: a solicitation of murder, a middle school teacher convicted of sending bomb threats to pupils and a woman found hoarding hundreds of live and dead cats.

Four years ago, Smith admitted to a slight case of nerves as he and his staff of prosecutors took the oath before a courtroom packed with family, friends and members of the legal and law enforcement communities.

Now well-ensconced in his job, Smith decided against having a formal gathering on Monday involving formal invitations and a speech.

“This time, no invitations went out,” Smith said from his office on the second floor of the courthouse Tuesday as he replied to e-mails about upcoming cases.

“We’re going to go up to the courtroom, raise our right hands and be sworn in. Fifteen minutes later, we’ll be back at work.”

via Violent crime keeps county prosecutor busy heading into second term – Archive – Frederick News-Post.

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