UPDATE: Self Defense Alleged In OC’s Weekend Fatality; State’s Increased Bail Request Denied

SNOW HILL — Less than 24 hours after the arrest of two local men for their alleged role in the death of a Pennsylvania man found unconscious in a downtown hotel parking lot early Sunday morning, one of the suspects had his bond set at $400,000 during a hearing on Wednesday afternoon, and the groundwork for a self-defense approach has already been laid out.

Around 3 a.m. on Sunday, Ocean City police officers responded to the parking lot of a hotel on 2nd Street to assist Ocean City EMS with an assault that had already occurred. Upon arrival, OCPD officers found the victim, later identified as Justin D. Cancelliere, 37, of North Whitehall, Pa., unconscious and unresponsive. First responders from the OCPD and the Ocean City Fire Department initiated emergency lifesaving procedures on the victim and transported him to AGH where he was later pronounced deceased. An autopsy was performed on Monday, and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore has ruled the nature of Cancelliere’s injuries as head and neck trauma and the cause of death a homicide.

After an investigation, OCPD detectives determined the assault occurred during an altercation in the area of Talbot Street and Baltimore Ave. The two suspects, identified as Caleb Edwin-Earl Ochse, 27, of Ocean City, and Christopher Blake Kendall, 22, of Ocean City, had entered the Fat Daddy’s restaurant around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday and ordered food.

Cancelliere entered the restaurant a short time later, followed by three other men including his cousin. During the two groups’ time in the restaurant, Cancelliere allegedy stared at Ocshe and Kendall, who did not know the victim and his group. Ochse and Kendall then left the restaurant and Cancelliere and his group followed closely behind. About a block away, a physical altercation occurred between the two suspects and Cancelliere and his group, all of whom were allegedly significantly larger in stature than the suspects.

According to police reports, the physical altercation turned violent with Cancelliere on the ground and the two suspects beating him. What has not been made public, however, is how the two smaller suspects were able to inflict significant injuries on the larger man who was with three other men.

After the physical confrontation, Cancilliere’s cousin and friends were able to get him into a taxi, which took them to the Plim Plaza Hotel a few blocks away where they were staying. Inexplicably, the group did not call 911 until getting back to the hotel parking lot. In fact, it is not certain if Cancilliere’s group called 911 or if the call for Emergency Services came from an unattached third party or witness.

There are unconfirmed reports that EMS was called first and then first responders called the OCPD. Ocean City Police and EMS arrived on the scene and after initiating emergency lifesaving measures transported Cancelliere to AGH where he was pronounced dead shortly before 7 a.m.

On Tuesday, Ocean City police arrested Ochse and Kendall, charging them with manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and affray. Ochse was arrested at the West Ocean City seafood restaurant where he works, while Kendall turned himself in at the Public Safety Building a few hours later. Both had hearings before a District Court Commissioner late Tuesday. Ochse had his initial bond set at $400,000, while Kendall was released on his own recognizance.

Ochse had a formal bond review hearing in District Court in Snow Hill on Wednesday in front of Judge Gerald Purnell. His attorney, Frank Benvenuto, argued for a reduction in the bond, citing his client’s local roots and family history in the resort area.

“We’re going to ask for the bond to be lowered,” he said. “He’s 27 years old, a Stephen Decatur graduate, and a resident of Worcester County. His grandfather owns the Kite Loft and his father owns Atlantic Bikes. He is not a flight risk because he has high ties to the community.”

However, Purnell admonished Benvenuto somewhat for only pointing out flight risk out of a list of at least eight factors in determining a bond amount.

“Out of eight things, you only cited on thing,” he said. “There is more to a bond review than flight risk. A lot of this has to do with the nature of the crime. I just want to make sure we’re all on the same page.”

Worcester County Executive Assistant State’s Attorney William McDermott represented the state at Ochse’s bond review hearing on Wednesday, just as he did for the preliminary hearing with the District Court Commissioner on Tuesday night when the bond was initially set at $400,000. McDermott said some overnight research into Ochse’s past revealed reasons for not reducing the bond amount but instead increasing it.

“I was at the District Court Commissioner hearing last night and new information has come to light since,” he said. “The state is asking for an increase in the bond.”

McDermott aired a laundry list of Ochse’s arrest record, including multiple assault and disorderly conduct arrests. He pointed to a 2012 disorderly conduct arrest during which Ochse got into a fight with out-of-towners in Ocean City and another particular incident during which the defendant came upon an OCPD officer affecting a DUI arrest and threw a concrete brick through the officer’s patrol car window. In another incident when Ochse was a juvenile, he stole a hat from a woman’s head on the Boardwalk and when she attempted to get it back, he allegedly punched her in the face.

Most recently, in February, he was arrested in Orlando, Fla. when he was discovered attempting to board a Greyhound bus with 60 grams of methamphetamines, or “bath salts,” on his person. According to Orlando police, Ochse had been visiting a friend in Miami and planned to take the bus from South Florida to Panama City Beach.

While McDermott pointed out Ochse’s various adult arrests and convictions, he also said the defendant had an extensive record with the Department of Juvenile Services.

“His juvenile record looks more like a yearbook because there are so many mug shots in there,” he said. “It’s true he has strong ties to the community, but most of those ties have been with law enforcement.”

It’s important to note the victim has his own prior criminal history dating back several years, although the nature of the charges and the outcomes of the cases are not fully known at this time.

McDermott said despite Ochse’s prior record, flight risk alone could be considered as a determining factor in setting the bond. He pointed to the February arrest in Florida, for which Ochse may or may not have a warrant, and an earlier case in District Court during which Ochse sent a letter to the court with a P.O. Box in Puerto Rico as the return address.

“The OCPD knows him on sight because of his past run-ins with them,” he said. “He beat a man on the ground unconscious and that man is now no longer with us because of his actions. For that reason, I’m asking the bond to be increased from $400,000 to $1 million.”

Benvenuto said video surveillance captured from Fat Daddy’s clearly shows the victim and three others including his cousin as the aggressors in the altercation. He again pointed to Ochse’s ties to the community as a reason for lowering the bond.

“Four gentlemen went out of Fat Daddy’s and confronted him,” he said. “The video shows that.”

For his part, Purnell acknowledged Ochse’s family history in the area, but was not inclined to reduce the bond, nor raise it as the state requested.

“I’m very familiar with Caleb since I had him in drug court,” he said. “I have known his family for years and it’s an outstanding family. I’m not going to go along with the state and increase the bond, but I am going to set it at $400,000.

While the state relied heavily on Ochse’s prior record during the bond hearing, it remains to be seen how much of his criminal history will be able to be used during the eventual trial. Generally speaking, prior arrests and convictions are not admissible in court proceedings unless there is a nexus between the past crimes and the case at hand. For example, if a particular feature in a prior case was apparent in a current case, that might be admissible. An attorney familiar with this case has said “that those types of charges will not be evidence at any trial.”

Meanwhile, the Ochse family, through their attorneys, on Wednesday issued a statement expressing their sympathies to the victim’s family while outlining one version of the facts of the case, supported by video surveillance tape captured at Fat Daddy’s.

“As lifelong residents and business owners in Worcester County, the family of Caleb Ochse would like to thank the community for their support,” the statement reads. “We also extend our sympathy to the family of Justin Cancelliere.”

The statement suggests there might be a rush to judgment and lays the groundwork for a likely defense strategy based on self-defense.

“We are disappointed that the State’s Attorney has arrested Caleb before a complete investigation,” the statement reads. “Our family attorney has been in contact with the police and the State’s Attorney since Sunday morning. The State’s Attorney is aware that a video camera at Fat Daddy’s captured important evidence of Caleb’s innocence.”

According to the Ochse family statement, the video shows Ochse and his friend, Kendall, eating at the restaurant after 2:30 a.m. Cancelliere then enters Fat Daddy’s alone. For some unknown reason, Cancelliere looks at Ochse and his friend intently. Three men then entered Fat Daddy’s and joined Cancelliere. According to the statement, the four men order food and sit in a booth with Cancelliere sitting awkwardly on the corner of the both so he can continue to stare at Ochse and Kendall, all the while gesturing to his friends. According to the statement, the four men waited for Ochse and Kendall to leave and followed them.

“The last frames of the video show Caleb and his friend walking north with the four men close behind,” the statement reads. “One of the men, who identified himself to police as a cousin of Mr. Cancelliere, told police that they followed Caleb and his friend and got into a fight a block away from Fat Daddy’s on Talbot Street. The cousin reported to police that after the fight, he saw Mr. Cancelliere on the ground. The cousin put him in a cab to take him to Plim Plaza where they were staying, without calling the police or ambulance. Police report that Mr. Cancelliere was found with injuries to his face and head including a bloody nose and a bruise on his forehead.”

The statement goes on to say Ochse and his friend left the scene and walked home, “also without contacting police or ambulance with no knowledge that anyone was hurt.”

The Ochse family statement essentially says the surveillance video will paint a picture of the true account of the incident and show the victim and his associates as the aggressors.

“We sincerely hope that the State’s Attorney’s Office will carefully review all of the evidence as we believe Caleb and his friend clearly acted in self-defense,” the statement reads.

 

31 comments on “UPDATE: Self Defense Alleged In OC’s Weekend Fatality; State’s Increased Bail Request Denied

  1. This article is a big joke. First look at the mugshots of the 2 thugs and then look at a picture of the victim. No way in hell is the victim larger than the suspects. Then look at the suspects prior records of assault. And if the four were the aggressors, why weren’t any of the other 3 hurt????

    • first they aren’t thugs, I wen to school with Caleb. He was a skater boy and pothead. that’s it no thug what so ever.

      • Caleb is a piece of shit and because someone stares at you does not constitute his innocence. If someone is prone and unconscious, continued beating should require first degree murder for both of these douchebags. The Md. state police should be investigating and not the Mayberry PD in Ocean City. I hope Caleb likes it from behind!

      • That’s a thug in my book! Someone who smokes pot and has a long criminal record! And beats others until death.

  2. Before you speak get your facts straight miss. These men went for food and were harrasses and jumped by four drunks. My nephew defended himself …period. I lived in Ocean City for 28 years and every summer idiots come to town and decide it is time to act like heathens because they are at the beach. Ask yourself this … If Caleb wanted to fight why did he try to walk away? The agressor unfortunately is the deceased also but he wanted to fight. He followed my nephew until he got one. Simply put … Self defense.

    • You obviously don’t know the facts either MISS….if he didn’t want to fight why did he beat someone to death. The deceased did not have any weapons nor does your nephew have any cuts and bruises. Not to mention has criminal past and guess what his arrests have been “ASSAULT”.

      There are many lives broken and many families torn apart.

    • Your nephew should have been in prison before. He is far from a choir boy and putting a brick through a cop’s window should have got him one between the eyes.

    • Just like he ‘defended himself’ all the other times he’s been locked up for assaulting people, right? Maybe if his family had raised him right and even once held him accountable for his actions he wouldn’t have beaten this guy to death on a sidewalk. But no, instead he gets an expensive lawyer and people saying how he’s misunderstood. Well now he’s finally killed someone.

      Maybe if the courts had thrown him in jail he wouldn’t have had the chance.

  3. Also the deceased record is not sparkling , time will allow the truth to come out. Hang in there CO we love you.

    • The deceased had no record. Don’t talk crap. Caleb deserves EVERYTHING that he gets plus!! Justin was 190 LB tops and his cousin is about 5’9 not exactly giants.

  4. Hey Lori Bayard, you don’t know all the facts, don’t be so quick to judge someone off their past for what is going on now, sounds like your just an angry bitch.. Says was in self defense, their is video surveillance of the four 40 yr old men being the aggressors in the situation..

  5. Are we all experts here who have seen the actual video ? Other accounts from OCPD in this article say the footage shows Ochse and Kendall were the ones acting up and acting disorderly. http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/lehigh-county/index.ssf/2014/08/ocean_city_fatal_beating_suspe.html
    A witness in another article also stated that Ochse and Kendall continued to beat Mr. Cancelliere as he lay lifeless on the ground – did you know that ? Why would you continue to beat a man who is down? It’s disgusting. Witness accounts also state that Mr. Cancelliere was outside ALONE when the attack occured. He was alone and an easy target. 2 on one is hardly self defense now…. Just an obvious observation but it didn’t appear in those mugshots that Ochse or Kendall had one mark on their face? Yet Ms. Michelle Walsh is saying THEY were jumped. C’mon now. Yet Mr. Cancellier lay lifeless and bloodied and now dead. Ochse is clearly a bafoon with a laundry list for rap sheet – he’s a violent criminal with a drug problem and should have been kept off the streets long ago. Same for Kendall. Ochse never paid for any of his crimes due to his “ties” presumably – it’s disgusting – he’s a criminal! His lawyer is already trying to use these “ties” and “roots” to get him out of jail according to this article but his criminal past shouldnt’ be consider in the court case ? Give me a break. If this was your father, your brother, your friend, your cousin, you would feel much differently and want justice served. What everyone is forgetting here is SOMEONE DIED. Mr. Cancelliere is dead! His children have no daddy, his parents lost their son – his wife is alone. It’s terrible. Intent or not – they killed a man. If you’re driving recklessly, drunk or texting and hit someone – accident or not – you still KILLED them. Let’s be respectful here and remember there are people that are mourning the loss of someone that died at the hands of these two men. And one more thing Ms. Michellle Walsh – cousin of Ochse – seems hate of tourists runs in the family (based on Ochse history of assaulting tourists) – shame on you – as you stated – “I lived in Ocean City for 28 years and every summer idiots come to town and decide it is time to act like heathens because they are at the beach”. Tourists are what pay Ochse salary, your salary, keep grandpa’s and daddy’s business up and running – keep OCMD running – have some respect. Typical ignorance!

  6. Does anyone know all the facts? NO, Did all of you see the videos? NO. Before you all start judging Justin think about his poor family. His poor wife and children.. Stop pointing blame when all you hear is one side of the story because the other was brutally murdered for no reason. There was no reason to continue to beat a man when he was down on the ground and unconscious. Self defense is one thing, murder is another. Justin was murdered and justice should be served.

  7. It is certainly a tragedy for all parties involved. The suspects do have a prior history but I do not believe they are killers in any way shape or form. The problem that I have accepting self defense is that after a certain point hitting an unconscious man on the ground repeatedly is no longer self defense. Do I think that they intended to kill him? Absolutely not. But the fact remains that there is still a man dead after their altercation and it is a result of severe trauma to the head and neck from the suspects’ blows. There are no winners here and it certainly seems like there are varying levels of right and wrong on both sides. My thoughts and prayers go out to the deceased, the suspects, and all of their family and friends affected by this.

  8. One other note, leaving the Fat Daddy’s, 216 S. Baltimore, the victim was actually heading in the direction to return to his hotel (Plim Plaza). There’s no more proof that he was following the assailants than there is that they lay in wait for him. Regarding their claim of self-defense, that defense requires that you retreat if you have the opportunity to safely do so, BEFORE you use force. And if you have no such opportunity to retreat, the force you can use must be reasonably proportionate to the threat you face. Presumably these innocent young tykes were too slow to get away from “four 40 yr old men”.

  9. I think its messed up thay they murdered a man with their bare hands…period. Maybe the vicim was asking for a fight…but im sure he didnt expect to be beaten after the “fight” was over….basically its a typical case of a rich little shit whom apparently thinks that since his family own property in oc, that he owns the whole town and he has a right to injure and steal from tourists. Quess what, ocean city’s economy is built from out of town guest. The entire situation sucks for both families…but ive been born and raised as a local and I think its insane that someone who comes from a similar upbringing as me can kill someone
    ..oh and the so called victims friends and family didnt even get him immediate health care…they had to have known they were breaking the law too.

  10. Did anybody check Caleb’s blood for more bath salts? Stuff makes people crazy and may account for the savage beating.

    • For the record, Caleb was not arrested for having bath salts or meth. The media just likes to write incorrect articles. I know him and a good part of the articles about him are false. So before assuming things, you should probably get all of your facts straight.

      • For the record, Caleb Ochse is a piece of shit with a ling juvenile and adult record. Go ahead and blame the world for Caleb’s “problems.” He is garbage and I hope and pray for only the worst that can possibly happen to him in prison. He deserves nothing less!!! Skaterboy will be taking it in the can and I hope he bleeds his family until they are broke!! No defense for these scumbag pussies and NO mercy!!!

      • And to add to the record, why would anybody accept YOUR version and opinion when you can’t even post your name??!! I guess all these arrests were part of a grand conspiracy and Caleb “buttslam” Ochsey is just misunderstood! Nice try, loser!!

        • Maybe because I prefer to stay anonymous and share responses without the whole world knowing how much of a loser I am apparently am, according to you who doesn’t even know Caleb. Even though he may have a record, that doesn’t mean he deserves all of this shit he is receiving. I can guarantee that the articles about him are all either incorrect or false in some manner. You have absolutely no idea who he is, you’re just letting incorrect information decide what your opinions on him should be. And if you really think about it, the whole story on the victim’s defense doesn’t exactly go together. Who puts their bleeding and unconscious family member into a taxi instead of first calling 911? And there is no possible way that Caleb and Blake were both able to “beat” him to death if the victim had 3 other people with him. What were they doing? The whole story has not come out yet and when the truth does come out, I hope you see how wrong you were.

          • Yeah, you go look two little, innocent children in the face and tell them that Caleb is a pillar of the community! Explain to them that their Daddy is dead and Caleb is just a pothead and a skaterboy!! If someone is down and out, you DON’T keep hitting and kicking like these two losers. Yeah, you are a loser if you can’t use your rwal name. You better hope Caleb in solitary!! No matter how tough someone feels they are, prison will give them a wider appreciation for their fellow man! Batter up Caleb!!!

      • How do you know that the articles about him are false? Did he TELL you they were? I would totally believe him then. I mean why would he lie to make himself look like less of a loser? Criminals always tell the truth! Give me a freakin break.

  11. I personally know the tourists. And know that none of them is what would be described as confrontational. Staring at someone acting a fool? Sure. Laughing about it? Yeah, probably. Even continuing to watch as fools make spectacles of themselves? Sure. Unfortunately, they or Justin “stared” at someone who has a violent history, who was probably baiting for his next victim. Was it self-defense Ms. Walsh when your nephew assaulted a women trying to retrieve the hat that he STOLE from her? He sounds like a sadistic b*stard who has been able to get away with far too much for far too long because of his local ties. They’re both kinda pretty and I hope that they find themselves another “good man” behind bars who will love them in ways they’ve never felt before. Sounds like even the locals are tired of his entitlement and his air of being above the law. The real tragedy here is for the two small children who lost their father because your “good kid” of a nephew and his accomplice “defended themselves” to the point beyond cowardess. Not only is 2-on-1 a b*tch move, but to continue to beat a man after he is on the ground takes a special kind of “good kid” and I hope he enjoys his special place in hell when he gets there. Pappy and Daddy’s money won’t help him get out of that one… I guess with his history of involvement with meth and bath salts, we should be glad your “good kid” didn’t decide to eat someone’s face…

  12. I’ve known these two kids my whole life there honestly good people would never want to kill someone unfortunatley the worst case scenario happened all prayers and thoughts to all families involved

    • All my prayers go for swift and brutal justice!!! Again, if you can’t post your name, you and your boyfriends are irrelevant!! I hear the showers are REAL friendly in SCI!

  13. All parties involved are guilty to a certain extent…ok Caleb has priors, well so does the PA man; he crashed into an ex gf car in a jealous rage– does this not also demonstrate anger issues?? Furthermore, while everyone attacks Caleb, what about Blake? I personally have worked with him, Blake is a fairly small guy, who is not inclined toward violence. I truly believe they were NOT the aggrevators. They were not drinking all day, or eyeing up the PA men @ fat daddy`s, and they did not follow them, they were followed. That being said, I do not condone violence, and both parties are guilty for fighting, but I think the outcome and death is due to a series of unfortunate

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