Roadside Armed Robbery

SNOW HILL – A Snow Hill man was arrested on armed robbery and assault charges last weekend after allegedly beating another man with a baseball bat on a side road off of Route 113.

Around noon last Friday, Worcester County Bureau of Investigations (WCBI) detectives received information about a victim being transported to PRMC in Salisbury with serious injuries received during an armed robbery. WCBI detectives met with the victim, who told police during the early morning hours on December 31, he stopped his vehicle on a side road off Route 113 near Snow Hill to meet with another man, identified as Kenneth Lee Wharton III, 18, of Snow Hill, with whom he was acquainted.

The victim told police the two men stopped their vehicles and exited when Wharton approached him with a baseball bat in his hand and demanded his money and his cell phone. The victim told police he handed over $10 and the cell phone, after which Wharton started to beat him repeatedly with the bat about the head and body. The victim said he fell to the ground and Wharton got back in his vehicle and drove away.

The victim was bleeding profusely but was able to get back in his own car and drive to his residence. Once at home, the victim sought emergency assistance and was eventually transported via ambulance to PRMC. The victim was listed in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery.

Wharton was later located at his residence and was arrested without further incident. He has been charged with first- and second-degree assault, armed robbery, reckless endangerment and theft. He was later released after posting a $25,000 bond.

Bail Denied For Stabbing Suspect

SNOW HILL – A Berlin man shot by an Ocean City police officer last month while allegedly stabbing his estranged wife remains behind bars this week after being denied bail during a hearing on Tuesday.

Marvin Jefferson Mitchell, 27, appeared in District Court in Snow Hill on Tuesday for a bond review hearing and was ordered held without bail. Mitchell has been charged with attempted murder, assault, robbery, reckless endangerment and other charges following the Dec. 20 incident in Ocean City during which an OCPD officer was forced to shoot him as he stabbed his estranged wife. A preliminary hearing has been set for Jan. 18.

Shortly after 11 a.m. on December 20, Ocean City Police officers responded to a 911 call for a domestic dispute on 82nd Street. When the officers arrived on the scene, they discovered a suspect, later identified as Marvin Mitchell, was armed with a knife and was attacking a female victim, later identified as Shanna Mitchell, 27, of Berlin, who is the suspect’s estranged wife.

According to police reports, after repeated orders to drop the knife were not heeded by Mitchell, an OCPD officer was forced to shoot the suspect in order to end his attack on his estranged wife. Both the victim and the suspect survived the attacks. The female victim suffered a stab wound as a result of the attack and was treated at the scene by Ocean City Fire Department paramedics before being transferred to PRMC in Salisbury.

Mitchell was also treated at the scene for a gunshot wound reportedly in the abdomen and was also taken to PRMC. He has since been released and is now in the Worcester County Jail after being denied bail on Tuesday.  

Just five days before the incident, Mitchell was arrested and charged with second-degree assault for an incident the details of which are not known. On the same day, December 15, Shanna Mitchell obtained a temporary protective order against her estranged husband, Marvin Mitchell, prohibiting him from contacting her or entering her residence. The temporary restraining order also ordered Mitchell to stay away from her place of employment.

Meanwhile, the Ocean City police officer who was forced to shoot Mitchell, identified as 11-year-veteran Corporal Richard Wawrzeniak, has been placed on paid administrative leave as part of the standard protocol for a police officer involved in a shooting incident. The Maryland State Police Homicide Unit, along with WCBI, is investigating the incident, according to OCPD Chief Bernadette DiPino.

‘Twin’ Sentenced to Five Years

OCEAN CITY – The second of two men, also known as “Twin” and “Shadow,” arrested in August on breaking and entering and other charges after resort police were able to connect them to a burglary spree with the help of an informant was sentenced this week to five years in jail.

Reggie Stevenson, 20, of Germantown, Md., also known as “Twin” this week in Circuit Court entered an Alford Plea to theft under $10,000 and was sentenced to five years in jail. In an Alford Plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges the state has enough evidence to prosecute the case against him. Stevenson’s counterpart in the theft spree, Harouna Bangoura, also known as “Shadow,” pleaded guilty to theft under $1,000 in December and was sentenced to one year in jail.

In August, a confidential informant told OCPD detectives there were three suspects staying at a residence on S. Baltimore Ave. that would be in possession of the stolen property on which they were seeking information. The informant provided identity information on two of the suspects including Stevenson and Bangoura. The informant also advised the detectives there would be a third suspect for whom he did not have a description. The informant told police the three suspects would be exiting the residence on Baltimore Ave. in possession of the stolen property and leaving town in a gray Kia Rio between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Aug. 11.

Sure enough, around 3 p.m. that day, Stevenson, Bangoura and the third unidentified suspect left the residence on Baltimore Ave. and walked south before heading west on Dorchester Street while carrying backpacks. A short time later, the gray Kia moved from its parking space on Dorchester Street and the three suspects got in. Detectives followed as the vehicle traveled west on Talbot Street before turning on St. Louis Ave. to go under the Route 50 bridge, which is when police pulled it over.

A search of the vehicle revealed a black backpack on the floor of the front passenger seat and inside the backpack police discovered suspected marijuana in a sock. At that point, Stevenson, Bangoura and the third suspect, identified as Anthony Francis, were taken into custody for possession of marijuana. A further search revealed two Olympia digital cameras in a black backpack and an Apple iPod in the center console. The items were taken to police headquarters and the investigation revealed the cameras had been reported stolen during a burglary at a residence on Somerset Street a day earlier.

During the burglary, the suspect or suspects gained entry to the residence through a window near a stairwell. Once inside, the suspects stole multiple items including the cameras. Further investigation revealed the iPod had been reported stolen during a burglary at a residence on St. Louis Ave. During that burglary, the suspect or suspects made entry into the residence through a window on the porch and stole multiple items including money.

Stet Docket For Football Player

OCEAN CITY – A University of Georgia football standout charged in June with second-degree assault after allegedly knocking out another man during a fight in a midtown Ocean City nightclub had the charges against him placed on the stet, or inactive, docket late last month but was left off the team’s Liberty Bowl roster because of a coach’s decision and now faces suspension from the team.

According to reports, the incident involving University of Georgia linebacker Marcus Dowtin, 21, of Clinton, Md., occurred on May 29. Dowtin was not arrested on the day of the incident but was later charged with second-degree assault after the establishment’s video surveillance system showed him strike the male victim with a closed fist to the side of the head, causing the victim to be knocked unconscious.

After reviewing the surveillance video, OCPD detectives charged Dowtin with second-degree assault in June a few weeks later. Last week, Dowtin had the assault charges against him in District Court placed on the stet, or inactive docket. According to reports, Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt was not aware of the incident or the charges against Dowtin until last Monday, a full week after the charge against his fourth leading tackler, was placed on the stet docket in Ocean City. Dowtin was left off Georgia’s active roster for the Liberty Bowl last Friday, a game the Bulldogs lost to Central Florida, 10-6. According to the school, Dowtin was left off the Liberty Bowl roster because of the coach’s decision.

Fireworks Injury

OCEAN CITY – An Ocean City man was injured last weekend when a fireworks display detonated near him after going up and failing to explode before falling back down.

The Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office this week is investigating a reported fireworks incident on Jan. 1. According to a release, the victim transported himself to Atlantic General Hospital where he received treatment for injuries to his leg. The victim told Fire Marshal’s Office officials he was outside his Ocean City residence watching a fireworks display when of the fireworks went up, came back down and then exploded. The victim was treated for injuries to his right leg and was released.

The investigation was unable to determine if the fireworks were legal ground-based sparkling devices, which are the only type legal in Maryland for private use. The Fire Marshal’s Office this week is reminding residents and visitors to use only legal fireworks and to carefully follow the safety recommendations.

Four New OCPD Officers

OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Police Department last week added four new officers to the fold, each of whom graduated from the police academy with honors.

Last Monday, the OCPD graduated four new officers from the Eastern Shore Criminal Justice Academy’s 65th police academy class. Joining the OCPD are new officers Amy Hoelscher, Christopher Wrench, Kory Moerschel and Richard Gutowski, each of whom were formally recognized as certified police officers with the OCPD after completing 24 weeks, or 919 hours, of intense training at the academy.

The academy’s 65th class was made up of new recruits from various law enforcement agencies all over the Eastern Shore. Once again, the academy recruits that have joined the OCPD distinguished themselves among their classmates, continuing a long tradition of OCPD recruits to graduate with top honors.

For example, Hoelscher finished at the top of her class academically and was named valedictorian of the class that graduated last week. Hoelscher was also honored with a Pistol Expert Award, a Physical Fitness Excellence Award and an Academic Excellence Award. Gutowski was honored with a Pistol Expert Award and an Academic Excellence Award.

Gutowski also led the Eastern Shore Criminal Justice Academy’s 65th class as Class Leader for the 24 weeks of the program. Wrench was ranked first in the class in firearms excellence and was also recognized as a Pistol Expert. Wrench was also fourth in the class in academic performance. In addtion, Moerschel was also recognized as a pistol expert. OCPD Chief Bernadette DiPino said this week the newest additions to the department all received top honors upon graduation.

“I am proud of our new officers and their significant achievements,” she said. “They have continued the OCPD’s long-standing tradition of excellence by taking the top awards in their class.”

DiPino said she expects the newest OCPD officers to shine as they start their new careers with the department.

“It’s an honor to welcome these four officers to our department,” she said. “Not only do they have great potential as police officers, but they have demonstrated that they have what it takes to be leaders within the Ocean City Police Department and the Ocean City community. I am thrilled to have them as members of the Ocean City Police Department.”