Guilty Plea In OC Stabbing

SNOW HILL — A Westminster man, arrested in September after stabbing another man in the chest during an altercation near a mid-town Ocean City hotel, pleaded guilty last week to first-degree assault and was sentenced to six years, all but 18 months of which was then suspended.

Joseph Rodriguez

Joseph Rodriguez

Around 10:20 p.m. on Sept. 6, 2015, Ocean City Police responded to a hotel in the area of 48th Street for a reported stabbing incident. Officers arrived on the scene and began treating a 29-year-old male from Sterling, Va. suffering from a stab wound on his chest. Ocean City EMS responded and continued treatment before transporting the victim to PRMC with injuries characterized as minor and not life-threatening.

The investigation determined prior to the stabbing, the victim and a group of male suspects were involved in an altercation in the area of 49th Street before going their separate ways. However, as the victim began walking away, the suspects pulled into the area of the nearby hotel and exited the vehicle and began fighting with the victim again.

One suspect, later identified as Joseph Rodriguez, 23, of Westminster, stabbed the victim with a knife before fleeing the area in the vehicle. OCPD officer broadcasted a description of the vehicle and it was stopped a short time later in the area of 3rd Street and Philadelphia Ave. by Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP).

Ocean City Police arrived on the scene and arrested Rodriguez without further incident. Rodriguez was charged with first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and possession of a weapon with intent to injure. Last week, Rodriguez pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and was sentenced to six years, all but 18 months of which was then suspended. Rodriguez was given credit for 55 days spent in custody prior to trial and was placed on probation for two years upon his release.

Six Months For Burglary

SNOW HILL — A Delmar man, arrested in July after breaking into a downtown condominium and stealing expensive basketball shoes that ultimately helped identify him, pleaded guilty last week in Circuit Court and was sentenced to 18 months, all but six months of which were then suspended.

Around 12:50 a.m. on July 15, Ocean City Police responded to the White Marlin condominiums on Somerset Street for a reported burglary in progress. After learning from the property owner he was not in Ocean City, nor did he have any renters or anyone else allowed access to the condo, police set up a perimeter and made their way up to unit 202.

The officers approached the unit, with lights on inside, and after knocking on the door found the front door knob to be broken and unlocked. The officers made contact with the occupants, including Ky’Shir Connally, 18, of Delmar, and three others and ordered them to come out and get on the ground.

The property owner told police the unit had been broken into back on July 1 and that he believed the perpetrators entered through a window and that his son’s black and red Air Jordan basketball shoes, size 11.5 had been stolen. A prior report had been filed for that incident. As the officers were detaining suspects found in the same unit early Wednesday morning, they found Connally to be wearing Air Jordan shoes matching the exact color scheme and size as those reported stolen in the earlier incident.

Upon questioning, Connally told police he was trying to find a place to party in Ocean City and knew about the unit at the White Marlin condo. He told the other three suspects he knew about the condo and found it to be unlocked, information he related to the other three suspects. Connally told the police he had partied in the vacant condo about two weeks earlier, which corresponds with the first reported break-in and theft of the shoes back on July 1. Connally told police he bought the Air Jordan shoes at a store about three months earlier, but could not provide any details about where, what store or when he bought the shoes.

OCPD officers questioned one of the female suspects detained after the alleged break-in. The female suspect said Connally had invited her to party at the condo around 8:20 p.m. the day before. The female said she arrived at the unit around 10:30 p.m. with her friend and began partying with Connally until the police arrived at nearly 1 a.m.

At that point, Connally was arrested for first-degree burglary, theft and other charges. When questioned further, Connally told police on July 1 he was at a downtown underage nightclub when he met a female known to him only as Sasha. After realizing his friend’s vehicle was locked, Connally said Sasha told him she knew of a condo on Somerset Street in which to “party.”

Connally said Sasha entered the unit at the White Marlin condominiums through a window and let Connally in the front door where the pair had consensual sex and then left. Connally told police he saw the Air Jordan shoes at that time and really liked them, so he took them. Two weeks later on Tuesday night, Connally returned to the unit with Mitchell and their two female companions and broke into the front door where they partied until police arrived just before 1 a.m.

Last week, Connally pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary and was sentenced to 18 months, all but six months of which was suspended. He was also placed on probation for 18 months, fined $500 and ordered to pay $300 in restitution to the victim. However, the burglary conviction in Worcester is relatively minor.

Connally is currently facing first-degree murder charges in Wicomico for the shooting death of a teenager in a Salisbury motel parking lot just two weeks after his arrest in Ocean City.

Fine For Knife Threat

SNOW HILL — A New Jersey man, arrested on first-degree assault charges last October after allegedly threatening a couple with a knife during a fight near 45th Street, pleaded guilty last week to affray and was fined $500.

Around 10:30 p.m. last Oct. 2, Ocean City Police on uniformed patrol in the area of 45th Street Village were flagged down by a citizen who advised the officers there was fight in progress on the north end of the shopping center parking lot. The officers responded to the area and found a large group of individuals actively fighting on the sidewalk and in the parking lot.

The OCPD officer observed one of the fighters with another man, later identified as Justin Racelis, 30, of Oxford, N.J., in a headlock. The officer activated his taser, targeted the two men and identified himself as a police officer while ordering them to get down on the ground. Racelis immediately laid down on the ground and placed his hands behind his back. While Racelis was being detained, the officer located a folding pen knife on the ground about three feet from the suspect.

After other responded and the melee was under control, an OCPD officer was approached by a female victim who said she and her boyfriend, who was the man involved in the fight when officers first arrived on the scene, had been accosted by Racelis who was armed with a knife. The female victim said she was walking north on the sidewalk in the area of 45th Street with her boyfriend when they were approached by Racelis and two other men.

The female victim said Racelis opened a knife and slashed at her, cutting the grocery bag she had in her hand. Officers then interviewed the male victim, who also said the couple was approached by Racelis and two other men, who were making comments about his girlfriend and two other females in the group.

The male victim said a verbal argument ensued, during which Racelis allegedly pulled out a folding knife, opened it and threatened him with it by thrusting the knife at him in a stabbing motion. Based on the victims’ testimony, Racelis was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of second-degree assault, and reckless endangerment. Last week, Racelis pleaded guilty to affray and was fined $500.

Guilty Pleas In Handgun Case

SNOW HILL — Two of the three men, arrested in October after a citizen’s report of a vehicle driving all over the roadway in Berlin led to weapons charges, were found guilty last week with varying sentences for each.

Around 8:30 p.m. last Oct. 8, the Maryland State Police received a call regarding a possibly intoxicated driver traveling north on Route 113 approaching the town of Berlin. According to the citizen report, the vehicle was reportedly all over the roadway and was unable to keep a consistent speed.

A Berlin Police officer observed the suspect vehicle, a gold Nissan Altima with Virginia registration, in the area of Route 113 and Branch Street. The Berlin officer conducted a traffic stop, and as the vehicle was slowing to pull over, the occupants were observed making furtive movements within the vehicle.

When the vehicle stopped, the officer made contact with the occupants, including the driver, identified as Wesly Vargas, 18; the front seat passenger, Qualil Rivera, 18, and the rear passenger, Deontae Rogers, 18, all of Norfolk. The odor of burnt marijuana was detected in the vehicle and a probably cause search was conducted.

During the search, several partially smoked marijuana cigarettes were discovered, along with a quantity of unsmoked marijuana. During a search of the glove compartment, two handguns were located along with two extended magazines. The first was a .40 caliber Glock that was next to a 22-round magazine loaded with 20 rounds of .40 caliber bullets.

The second weapon discovered was a .38 caliber Ruger LCP with a serial number that appeared to be scratched off. Berlin Police also located a box of .38 caliber ammunition behind the driver’s seat. Two weeks ago, Rogers pleaded guilty to carrying a handgun in a vehicle and possession of a handgun under age 21 and was sentenced to six months, all but one month of which was suspended.

Last week, Vargas pleaded guilty to possession of a handgun under the age of 21 and was sentenced to six months, all but one of which was suspended. He was also placed on probation for two years and fined $500. Rivera entered an Alford plea to possession of a firearm under 21 and was sentenced to 60 days, all but four of which was then suspended. He was placed on probation for 18 months and fined $500.