Victim’s Death Elevates WOC Assault Case To Homicide

WEST OCEAN CITY- The charges against a local homeless man for the beating death of another man in West Ocean City in December were elevated from first-degree assault to first-degree murder this week after the victim succumbed to injuries sustained in the alleged attack.

Eric J. Jarrett, 48, of no fixed address, on Tuesday was indicted on charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment for his role in the beating death of another local homeless man at a residence on Golf Course Road in West Ocean City on December 19. Jarrett was charged immediately after the incident with first- and second-degree assault and has been held without bond since.

However, the victim, identified as George L. Stinnett, 58, of no fixed address, later succumbed to injuries sustained in the alleged assault and an autopsy was ordered. When the autopsy determined Stinnett’s death was a homicide, the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office then presented the new evidence to a grand jury, which indicted Jarrett this week on first- and second-degree murder and other charges.

Shortly after 12:30 p.m. on December 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. Stinnet, 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. Stinnett later succumbed to the injuries and it has been determined by the state medical examiner the injuries sustained in the assault by Jarrett resulted in his death.

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 December 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.

After consultation with the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office, Maryland State Police initially charged Jarrett with first- and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment and he has been held in the Worcester County Detention Center without bond since the December 19 incident. Jarrett had another bail review hearing this week after the grand jury indictment on first-degree murder charges and remains behind bars without bond.

A motions hearing in the first-degree murder case has been set for April 8 and trial is tentatively laid in for May 5. Meanwhile, Jarrett still faces second-degree assault charges for the second incident in Ocean City on the same day, which ultimately led to his arrest in December.

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.