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Man found guilty of assault

September 06, 2002|by KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

A Hagerstown man on Thursday was found guilty of second-degree assault in a May incident, during which a neighbor's relative believed he was pointing a weapon at her.

A Washington County Circuit jury deliberated for 30 minutes before finding Ronnie Greer, 46, of 66 Wayside Ave., guilty of second-degree assault.

The state dropped additional charges of first-degree assault, reckless endangerment and possession of a handgun in the commission of a crime before closing arguments.

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Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley sentenced Greer to eight years in prison with four years suspended.

In his opening statement, Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Robert Veil said that Greer, who is white, had been having an ongoing dispute with the interracial family that lived in the other half of his duplex.

Veil said Greer pointed a weapon at Tonya Marie Spencer, a relative of the tenants in 68 Wayside Ave., and threatened her, using a racial slur.

Defense attorney John Chillas told the jury of five women and seven men that Spencer had gone to Greer's home on her own, so she couldn't have feared him.

Spencer testified that she was hoping to make peace when she knocked on Greer's front door.

As she stood there, she noticed a child look out the window and direct a rude hand gesture at her.

Spencer said she decided to leave and had walked to the sidewalk when she heard Greer's front door open.

Greer stood in the doorway and pointed an object that resembled a revolver at her and said "Come on, (racial slur)," she testified.

Police confiscated a .22-caliber revolver and a BB gun from the Greer home, city police said.

On cross-examination by the defense, Spencer said she couldn't be sure if the object pointed at her was a BB gun or a revolver.

"I was fearful of the gun he was pointing at me. I was trying to diffuse the situation," she said.

Hagerstown City Police Officer Douglas Hay testified that when he arrived at Wayside Avenue at 8:55 p.m., he saw Greer standing on his porch screaming at a group of people down the street.

"He appeared to be intoxicated. His speech was slurred and I could smell alcohol on his person," Hay said.

Officer Dwayne Freeman testified that he had been at 66 Wayside Ave. for an earlier disturbance call and neighbors had told him Greer threatened to shoot them.

The state rested its case at 11:40 a.m. and withdrew the first-degree assault, reckless endangerment and use of handgun charges. The defense did not present any witnesses.

Spencer said she was pleased with the verdict, but feared the dispute would continue.

Asked why some of the charges were dropped, Veil said second-degree assault "was the appropriate charge to proceed with the jury. The state was gratified with the jury's view of the case."

Chillas said Greer has not decided whether he will appeal.

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