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Man enters Alford plea in August stabbing incident

January 15, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Four people, including a man who was stabbed and the man charged with stabbing him last August, were so drunk on the night of the stabbing they couldn't tell police exactly how it happened, lawyers said in court Tuesday.

There was enough detail, however, for Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell to accept an Alford plea from Patrick Lee Jackson, 37, of 1170 Kenly Ave.

Jackson entered the Alford plea to a charge of reckless endangerment.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but agrees that the state has enough evidence to gain a conviction.

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McDowell sentenced Jackson to 18 months probation and ordered him to pay Richard Allen Wetzel's $1,112.57 in medical bills.

Jackson, originally from Frederick, Md., had just moved to Hagerstown, said Jackson's attorney, Carl Creeden of the Washington County Public Defender's Office.

According to charging documents, on Aug. 3, 2002, Jackson and two women were at Wetzel's home.

All four had been drinking heavily, court papers said. Wetzel left his home on Brookfield Lane, and when he returned found Jackson and Wetzel's girlfriend alone watching a pornographic video.

Wetzel left, but returned, went to his room and grabbed his bowie knife and his machete. At the time, the knives were still in their sheaths, the documents said.

According to court documents, Jackson stopped Wetzel and pushed him to the floor. Jackson left the home, but returned, took the bowie knife, took it out of the sheath and cut Wetzel in the throat.

Creeden said Jackson called police, who found Jackson in the home with blood on his hands and Wetzel on the floor.

Doctors at Washington County Hospital gave Wetzel eight stitches to close the neck wound.

Jackson initially was charged with attempted second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment. In exchange for his plea to reckless endangerment, the other charges were dropped.

Creeden and Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Gina Cirincion agreed there was not enough evidence to pursue the attempted murder or the assault charges.

"I don't think anybody seems to remember what happened," Creeden said in court.

"Was everybody so drunk" they can't remember? McDowell asked.

"It seems so," Creeden said.

Jackson, who had served five months at the time of his sentencing Monday, could have faced five years in prison. McDowell sentenced him to 12 months of supervised probation, an additional six months of unsupervised probation and ordered him to pay the hospital charges.

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