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Jury acquits man charged in knife fight

September 23, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

A Washington County Circuit jury on Thursday acquitted Charles Ransom Greenwalt III of charges stemming from a March 15, 1998, knife fight in which four people were injured.

After a daylong trial, the jury deliberated for 90 minutes before acquitting the former Cascade resident of two counts of first-degree assault, four counts of second-degree assault, two counts of reckless endangerment, and four counts of possession of a deadly weapon with intent to injure.

Greenwalt testified that he acted in self-defense.

"They were on me," Greenwalt testified. "I closed my eyes and I swung the knife ... I did it, but I believed I did what I had to do."

Greenwalt was returned to Washington County from Alabama in April, more that a year after the March 15, 1998, fight with three brothers and their friend at the intersection of Locust and East Washington streets in Hagerstown around 11:30 p.m.

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James Ollen Benedict, 19, of 17426 Rockdale Road, Clear Spring, suffered a deep abdominal wound requiring surgery and a weeklong hospitalization.

He testified Greenwalt's attack was unprovoked and that Greenwalt got out of his car first.

Steven Scott Benedict, 24, of Conococheague Street in Williamsport, was wounded in the arm and chest wall and spent three days in the hospital.

"After Jimmy was stabbed, the guy turned around and swung at me and stabbed me," Steven Benedict testified. He denied having a broken beer bottle as a weapon.

Lance Cpl. Charles Edward Socks, 20, a U.S. Marine now stationed in California, received a 12-inch long wound that damaged his liver and required surgery.

"I was sitting in the car and I saw Jimmy arguing with somebody," Socks testified. "When I got out, I was struck and fell back into the car."

Jeremiah Daniel Benedict, now 21, of Hagerstown, denied that he, Socks and his two brothers had been shadowing Greenwalt and his companions earlier that day after an alleged confrontation on the Dual Highway.

"That was the first time I'd seen that Ford Escort that day," he said, referring to the car in which Greenwalt was riding.

Jeremiah Benedict 's finger was cut.

Testimony was undisputed that the Benedicts and Socks were in two vehicles stopped at the traffic light when the Ford Escort pulled up.

After that, the stories diverged, with each "side" claiming the others started the fight.

The driver of the Escort later told police his cousin, Greenwalt, was with him that night in Hagerstown.

Greenwalt testified that he stayed in the Cascade area for a few days and then went to Pennsylvania. From there, he went to Alabama.

"I was scared," Greenwalt said about his flight.

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