Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

In the end, the death of Pennsylvania man Justin Cancelliere in Ocean City was most likely accidental in nature. Otherwise, the State’s Attorney’s Office would not have agreed to a plea agreement in this high-profile case.

The exact details of what transpired last August in downtown Ocean City between Cancelliere and the suspects, who plead guilty to affray in exchange for light prison sentences, may never be known entirely. However, based off witness statements and video surveillance footage from Fat Daddy’s Sub Shop, certain conclusions are obvious.

For whatever reason, the deceased and his friends immediately followed the two suspects in the case out of a downtown sub shop after a day of partying in Ocean City. I watched the video from inside Fat Daddy’s, and there were no obvious signs of any confrontation or verbal exchange between the suspects and the victim while inside the establishments. That’s why it’s unclear why Cancelliere and his group followed the two suspects immediately after they left. Although the motive is unknown, there’s no disputing it was not a coincidence that they left at the same time. Clearly, there was something awry between the two groups.

Witness statements indicated a fight ensued shortly after everyone left the shop, and it appears the victim was at a minimum compliant in it and may have even started it. Punches were thrown and Cancelliere was reportedly knocked out and later died. Whether the suspects were overly aggressive and should have stopped hitting him once they realized he was not fighting back is unclear. Another mystery is why the victim’s friends did not get involved enough to prevent the lopsided spat. Why they did not immediately call authorities rather than putting him in a cab for what amounted to a few blocks of a ride?

It’s a terrible shame what happened that August night in Ocean City, and most of the disturbing questions in this case will remain unanswered it seems, but one thing I know is there were no winners in this ordeal. It’s just a sad situation for all.

This week’s smoking discussion in Ocean City represented a significant shift in approach to electronic smoking devices. In previous discussions, Ocean City did not include vapor and e-cigarettes in the proposal to create restricted smoking areas. When the topic resurfaced this week, the city’s apparent change of heart was noticed and the same rules were applied to these devices as traditional cigarettes.

That decision seems to be consistent with trends elsewhere. For example, a bill that was pre-filed recently in advance of this year’s Maryland General Assembly session changes the definition of smoking within the Clear Indoor Air Act to prohibit the use of electronic smoking devices.

Over the last year, many restaurants and bars have found themselves in awkward positions when it comes to these trendy devices. Of late, most have just decided if smoke is emitted then they are not allowed. This House bill, along with one in the Senate that makes e-cigarettes illegal to minors, seems to follow that line of thinking.

The situation at the Casino at Ocean Downs last weekend involving a breastfeeding mom being told to leave the property was a hot-button issue for some.

On this newspaper’s social media page, most commenters were more outraged that a woman would have a seven-week-old baby at a casino on a cold, rainy night than the woman’s claim she was asked to leave the property because she was breastfeeding her daughter.

According to the woman, she was waiting in the vestibule area of the casino for her boyfriend to bring out the keys to their vehicle so she could breastfeed the child there. When the child got upset, she decided to discreetly feed the child while she waited. She maintains the casino security team had no problems with her hanging out with the child in the lobby area until she began breastfeeding the child. The casino maintains she was asked to leave because of its strict policy against allowing minors at the casino.

This issue here is who is telling the truth. Was she allowed to stand in the vestibule area with her child until she began breastfeeding? If so, then the woman is right to be upset. If it was the breastfeeding that caused security to usher her outside, the law clearly says that’s not allowed to happen.

Video surveillance will tell the story, but my guess is nothing more will come from this issue unless some sort of civil action is weighed. That’s highly unlikely.

All quality attorneys are known to be full of confidence, but I would have to think the attorney in court representing the chronic drunk driver this week had to know his client was going to get jail time if convicted.

The man was arrested for drunk driving for the 11th time last year and after being found guilty this week the attorney sought leniency from the judge prior to sentencing. The attorney argued the man needed addiction treatment and counseling, which would not be available if he was incarcerated.

It was a weak argument, and I’m sure the lawyer articulating it even knew it. To nobody’s surprise, Judge Tom Groton didn’t buy that attempt at leniency, saying, “He has demonstrated that is never going to happen. I have no confidence he will ever do that. The only thing to do is keep [him] off the road for as long as possible.”