More Charges Possible After Assault Victim’s Death

WEST OCEAN CITY — The victim in an alleged serious assault in West Ocean City in December has died, opening the possibility for additional charges, including potentially homicide.

Eric J. Jarrett, 48, of no fixed address, has been charged with first-degree assault for his alleged role in the beating of another homeless man at a residence on Golf Course Road in West Ocean City on Dec. 19 and remains in custody, being held without bond. However, the victim has since died and, pending the outcome of an autopsy, Jarrett could now face additional charges.

The Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office confirmed this week the victim, a local homeless man, is deceased. Because the investigation is still ongoing, the State’s Attorney’s Office couldn’t comment extensively other than confirm prosecutors are awaiting the autopsy results and all police reports on the incident and will evaluate the results to determine if additional charges are warranted.

Shortly after 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 19, Maryland State Police troopers from the Berlin barrack were dispatched to assist emergency medical services at an apartment on Golf Course Road in West Ocean City. When troopers arrived, they found an EMS team attending to an unconscious man, later identified as George L. Stinnet, 58, of no fixed address, who was in the apartment.

An ambulance crew transported Stinnet from the scene, but a Maryland State Police helicopter was soon called and the victim was flown to Shock Trauma in Baltimore. Stinnet has since died.

After consultation with the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office, Maryland State Police charged Jarrett with first- and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment for the incident.

MSP troopers called for criminal investigators and personnel from the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation (WCBI) and the MSP Criminal Enforcement Division and Homicide Unit responded to the scene. The preliminary investigation indicates both the victim and the suspect are homeless and were in the West Ocean City apartment with other individuals on the night prior.

Information developed during the investigation indicates sometime that Wednesday night, Jarrett allegedly assaulted Stinnet while they were both in the apartment. When another individual could not wake Stinnet on Thursday afternoon, they called for an ambulance to respond.

Detectives developed additional information about the suspect and requested assistance from the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD). Jarrett was taken into custody by the OCPD on the evening of Dec. 19 for another unrelated assault. In that case, Jarrett allegedly assaulted a man at a downtown Ocean City residence presumably just hours after the victim in the West Ocean City assault was discovered.

It is uncertain if additional charges are forthcoming against Jarrett, but if they are, the incident will follow a recent trend in the resort. Homicide and manslaughter cases are few and far between in the resort area, but a handful in recent years have all followed a theme of essentially a fight gone terribly wrong.

In 2016, a Baltimore County man was convicted on manslaughter charges following an incident in June of that year after throwing a single punch that claimed the life of another Baltimore area man. The incident began as an argument on an Ocean City municipal bus and escalated when the two arguing groups exited the bus. The suspect’s group followed the victim’s group and the suspect threw a single punch that claimed the victim’s life.

In August 2014, two local men were charged initially with homicide for their roles in the fatal beating of a Pennsylvania man outside a downtown restaurant. In that case, the suspects’ group argued with the victim’s group and the altercation escalated to a brawl on a downtown street that ultimately turned deadly.

In January 2013, a local man was convicted of manslaughter for the death of his longtime friend outside a downtown bar. In that case, the incident began as a friendly dispute over a swiped cell phone and ended with one local man swatting another, causing the victim to fall on the icy, snowy sidewalk and fracture his skull.

In 2011, a local man was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of a former West Ocean City bar owner in another example of a fight gone terribly wrong. The victim and the suspect got into a verbal argument that escalated into a physical altercation. The victim fell to the ground after being struck by the suspect and did not recover from a subsequent internal injury.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.