Second-Degree Murder Conviction

SNOW HILL — A Pocomoke man last week was found guilty of second-degree murder for the stabbing death of another man last September and now faces as many as 30 years in jail pending the outcome of a pre-sentence investigation.

Around 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2010, Pocomoke Police responded to the area of 9th Street for a reported stabbing incident. Upon arrival, Pocomoke Police located an individual later identified as Russell Matthew Bailey III, 18, unconscious and unresponsive. The officers observed Bailey to have a severe injury to the upper portion of his chest. Paramedics arrived and transported Bailey to PRMC in Salisbury where he was pronounced dead.

Worcester County Bureau of Investigation (WCBI) detectives were called in to investigate and began interviewing witnesses. Based on the investigation, WCBI detectives identified James Edward Ballard, 29, as the suspect. Ballard was interviewed and later arrested and charged with first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter and first-degree assault.

Last week in Circuit Court, a Worcester County jury found Ballard guilty of second-degree murder and a pre-sentence investigation was ordered. Ballard faces up to 30 years in jail and a sentencing hearing has been set for July 1.

Assault Conviction

SNOW HILL — A Bishopville woman charged with numerous serious charges last June after she allegedly abused a disabled child in her care in a residence in Ocean Pines was found guilty last week in Circuit Court of second-degree assault and was sentenced to a year in jail, all but one month of which was then suspended.

Last June 25, Ocean Pines Police arrested Carleigh Renee Kufchak, 19, and charged her with first- and second-degree child abuse, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment after an investigation revealed a child she had been caring for in an Ocean Pines residence had been abused. The child’s mother videotaped Kufchak’s alleged abusive behavior toward the child, who is partially blind and disabled.

Last week in Circuit Court, Kufchak was found guilty of second-degree assault and was sentenced to one year in jail, all but 30 days of which were then suspended. She was placed on probation for two years upon her release and fined $500.

Jail Time For Burglary

SNOW HILL — An Ocean City man arrested in December on burglary charges after DNA evidence linked him to a break-in at a Berlin business almost a year earlier pleaded guilty last week in Circuit Court to second-degree burglary and was sentenced to four years in jail, most of which was then suspended.

In January 2010, Maryland State Police troopers and Worcester County Bureau of Investigation (WCBI) detectives responded to Atlantic Aquatec on Route 50 near Berlin for a reported burglary. The investigation revealed a suspect or suspects entered the building and stole a number of items including power tools.

No suspect was identified and the case remained open as detectives collected evidence from the scene. In December, using DNA evidence collected from the scene, WCBI detectives were able to identify Martino Galeaz, 39, as the suspect in the Atlantic Aquatech burgarly nearly a year ago. Galeaz was arrested this week and charged with second-, third- and fourth-degree burglary and felony theft over $1,000.

Last week in Circuit Court, Galeaz pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and was sentenced to four years in jail, all but one year of which was suspended. He was placed on probation for two years and fined $500. He was also ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution to the victim.

Three Injured In Route 50 Crash

BERLIN — Three locals were transported to PRMC in Salisbury last week with injuries not believed to be life threatening following a two-vehicle accident on Route 50 at Route 589.

Around 9:40 p.m. last Thursday, Maryland State Police troopers responded to a reported motor vehicle accident on Route 50 at Route 589 with injuries. The investigation revealed a vehicle driven by a 17-year-old juvenile from Bishopville was in the turn lane on eastbound Route 50 attempting to turn left onto Route 589. According to witnesses, the juvenile driver turned left against a red turn signal and crossed westbound Route 50, colliding with a westbound vehicle driven by Robert Messick, Jr., 45.

The witness said Messick’s vehicle was unable to stop in time to avoid the juvenile’s vehicle, which had just run through the red turn signal. The juvenile’s vehicle collided with the westbound vehicle on its passenger side. Messick and the juvenile driver were transported to PRMC via ambulance with injuries not believed to be life threatening. A juvenile passenger was also transported to PRMC via Maryland State Police helicopter with injuries not believed to be life threatening. Charges are pending against the juvenile driver.

Child Abandoned At Mall

SALISBURY — A Laurel, Del. woman was arrested this week on reckless endangerment and other charges after allegedly leaving her four-year-old child unattended in a vehicle while she went shopping in a mall in Salisbury.

Around 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Salisbury Police responded to the Centre at Salisbury for a report of an unattended child in the food court area. The officers met with a witness who said she found a child wandering in the mall parking lot unsupervised. The officers met with the 4-year-old boy, who was unable to identify his parents or their vehicle.

Further investigation revealed the suspect, identified as Cierra Shakara Bolden, 22, had left the child unattended in her vehicle while she went shopping in the mall. Bolden was arrested and charged with leaving a child unattended, reckless endangerment and contributing to a dangerous condition for a child.

Arrest Made In Baseball Bat Attack

SALISBURY — A Salisbury man was arrested on first-degree assault and other charges last week after allegedly attacking another man with a baseball bat.

Around 11:30 a.m. last Thursday, Salisbury Police arrested Shantee Goslee Johnson, 24, on assault and other charges after connecting the suspect to an alleged attack with a baseball bat in late March. On March 23, Salisbury Police responded to PRMC and met with an adult male victim who had sustained injuries to his face and chest.

The victim told police he had been attacked by Johnson and other unidentified suspect while walking in the area of Marine Rd. and Fitzwater Street. The attack was the result of a prior argument that escalated to the point Johnson allegedly struck the victim with a baseball bat several times. The victim’s injuries were not life threatening and he was treated and later released.

Salisbury Police obtained a warrant for Johnson’s arrest and he was picked up last Thursday. He has been charged with first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and possession of a dangerous and deadly weapon. The investigation continued in regards to the other suspects and more arrests are pending.

Domestic Assault Arrest

SALISBURY — Salisbury Police this week arrested a Delmar man on assault charges a day after the suspect allegedly struck a female victim in the face during a domestic argument.

Last Sunday, Salisbury Police responded to a reported domestic situation on Riverside Drive and met with a female victim, who said she had been involved in a fight with the suspect, identified as Charles Richard Carey III, 30. The victim told police the argument has escalated to the point Carey had struck her in the face. The victim was taken to PRMC for treatment and later released.

Based on the information provided, Salisbury Police obtained an arrest warrant for Carey, who had left the scene prior to their arrival. Around 10:15 a.m. the next day, Salisbury Police located Carey and arrested him on charges of second-degree assault.

Speeding Stop Nets Pot Bust

SNOW HILL — A Berlin man was arrested on marijuana possession charges last weekend after getting pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Around 12:15 a.m. last Saturday, Maryland State Police troopers stopped a vehicle on Manklin Creek Rd. in Ocean Pines for speeding. Upon making contact with the driver, identified as Jeffery Lee Trump, 50, the officer detected the odor of alcohol coming from his person. Trump was subjected to a battery of field sobriety tests, which he did not complete to the satisfaction of the officer, and he was subsequently arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

During a search incident to the DUI arrest, a black metallic smoking device containing suspected marijuana was found on his person and possession of marijuana and paraphernalia charges were tacked on.

Scam Targets Family Members

OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Police Department this week is warning residents and visitors about a current telephone scam targeting parents, grandparents and family members of individuals allegedly in trouble.

The scam, which has been fairly common, has recently surfaced in the Ocean City area. It has several variations, but typically involves a loved one who is in trouble and needs help getting out of an embarrassing or harmful situation. Typically, the scammer will call the victim and claim to be their child, grandchild, niece or nephew, for example, indicating that they are have been arrested and are in jail and need of help.

In some cases, another scammer will interact with the victim via telephone, claiming to be a lawyer, a bail bondsman, a deputy or an official from the jail to further convince the victim the scam is legitimate. The scammer will then request money be sent to an out-of-the-are Western Union office in order to get the victim’s loved one out of jail or whatever harmful situation the callers claim.

Police have learned the scammers are accessing family information from the Internet to make the scam more convincing. In addition, the scammer does not have a foreign accent, but often sounds different than the alleged family member. Oftentimes, the caller will blame the phone line or an illness that is making them sound different on the phone.

The OCPD is reminding citizens to never wire money to strangers or someone they haven’t met in person. Requests to wire money overseas or to Canada are red flag signs of a fraud. Anyone receiving a scam call like the ones described are urged to contact local law enforcement.

OCPD Adds New K-9 Duo

OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Police Department this week introduced the newest duo on its K-9 unit, welcoming Pfc. James Runkle and his new partner, “Breki,” who was recently obtained using narcotics forfeiture funds.

“Breki,” a 15-month old Belgium malawa, comes to the OCPD from Slovakia, where he received specialized training in law enforcement. In addition, after his arrival in Ocean City, Breki and Pfc. Runkles completed a four-week academy-styles patrol and narcotics program, which develops the conditioning of both the handler and the K-9 alike.

At the completion of their training, the pair was certified to the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission and the North American Police Work Dog Association standards. Chief Bernadete DiPino said this week she was pleased to be able to put narcotics forfeiture funds to such good use.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to use forfeiture funds to obtain such a wonderful asset to our department,” she said. “This unit has been a vital part of the OCPD for more than four decades and I am glad that we can utilize funds taken from criminal activity in a way that benefits our police department and our community.”