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Judge says evidence was properly obtained

March 27, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Washington County Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone said Tuesday that Hagerstown officers used "good police work" in turning up a man accused of impersonating a police officer, taking a car and dragging the driver, and said he would allow prosecutors to present evidence based on that work.

Daniel Nicholas Smith, 26, of 416 Guilford Ave., was charged on Oct. 19, 2002, with carjacking, robbery, unlawful taking of a vehicle, second-degree assault, impersonating a police officer and being rogue and vagabond.

The maximum sentence for convictions on all charges would be 69 years in jail and $7,600 in fines.

Washington County Assistant Public Defender Eric Reed argued before Judge W. Kennedy Boone that some evidence should be excluded from trial because police officers hadn't verified enough information before they pulled over a car matching a description of the stolen car.

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But Boone said he believed police officers' testimony that they knew the license tag number of the stolen car - linking the car to the victim - before they pulled Smith over.

"If that isn't dead-bang probable cause, then I don't know what is," Boone told Reed.

Smith is scheduled for a possible trial on April 24.

According to court documents, Hagerstown police went to the Superior Ice Cream shop at 500 Chestnut St. at 7:43 p.m. on Oct. 19 for a report that a man took a car from Roberta Lee Ecker, 51 at the time, and her mother, Beatrice June Shank, 73 at the time.

Police said a man approached Ecker after she and Shank bought ice cream and asked for her driver's license and registration. She smelled alcohol on the man's breath and said he wasn't a police officer, according to the documents.

Shank had left the car while Ecker was trying to get into the car, but the man pulled her out and started driving. Ecker, still hanging onto the car, was dragged, but not seriously injured, the court papers said.

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