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Man accused in Hancock standoff ordered to trial on unrelated charges

September 19, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- A man who engaged police in a 45-hour standoff at a Hancock motel in August was in Washington County District Court for a preliminary hearing Thursday on unrelated burglary charges.

After hearing testimony by Hagerstown Police Officer Carroll Braun, Washington County District Judge Mark Thomas found there was probable cause to forward the 2000 burglary case against James A. Prevatt III to Washington County Circuit Court.

Prevatt, 26, whose last known address is Moncks Corner, S.C., is charged with threatening arson by use of an explosive device and other crimes in connection with the Hancock incident. Police said that during the standoff he told officers he was armed and would kill a hostage, and made bomb threats.

Police said they didn't find any weapons or explosives in the room, but they found drugs and stolen property -- including jewelry, cameras, electronic equipment and coins.

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During the standoff, investigators discovered that Prevatt had several outstanding warrants, including one from Hagerstown Police in connection with a 2000 burglary on Guilford Avenue.

Washington County District Court documents show Prevatt is charged with first-degree burglary, fourth-degree burglary and two counts of theft of more than $300.

Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael said in August it was unclear why the warrant was open so long, "but it's going to be served now."

On June 20, 2000, a burglary at 427 Guilford Ave. was reported to police. A home stereo, portable stereo, 12 PlayStation games and about 150 CDs were taken. The electronics were worth about $2,945, Braun testified Thursday.

Witnesses said they saw a group of people entering the home and carrying out the electronics.

One of the victims told investigators the burglars entered through a back window, Braun testified.

Under questioning by Assistant Public Defender Carl Creeden, Braun testified that none of the electronics was pawned by Prevatt, but that his brother had pawned them. Investigators did not find fingerprint evidence of Prevatt having been in the house.

Prevatt appeared in court Thursday in an orange Washington County Detention Center jumpsuit. Tattoos covered his arm, and he had a large tattoo on his neck.

Prevatt has a "significant mental health history" and was treated at a mental health hospital while serving a seven-year sentence in Virginia, Creeden said during a bond review in August. Prevatt's history includes diagnoses of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, Creeden said.

Conviction on a first-degree burglary charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

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