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Man charged with soliciting murder

October 02, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- The co-defendant who testified this week against Anthony Caldwell during an attempted first-degree murder trial has been indicted on charges of soliciting first-degree murder and intimidating a witness.

Louis Gonzalez, 27, called the charges "bogus" when information about the indictment surfaced during Caldwell's trial earlier this week. The grand jury handed up the indictment Sept. 15.

The new charges are related to allegations that Gonzalez attempted to have someone kill Bruce Jones, the man Caldwell is accused of shooting during a robbery disguised as a drug deal in Smithsburg on Jan. 27.

Gonzalez was being held Friday at the Washington County Detention Center.

Caldwell, 25, formerly of 27 E. Lee St. in Hagerstown, faces charges of attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault and robbery. Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell on Tuesday declared a mistrial after a juror belatedly revealed she was familiar with the defendant's family.

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Gonzalez faced the same charges as Caldwell but entered an Alford plea to armed robbery. All of the other charges against him were dropped and he agreed to testify for the state during Caldwell's trial.

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

While testifying earlier this week during Caldwell's trial, Gonzalez was asked about the pending charges by Assistant Public Defender Charles Bailey. Gonzalez said the charges were the result of "two inmates talking on me."

Lt. Mark Knight of the Washington County Sheriff's Department was called by the defense during Caldwell's trial in an attempt to bring out more information about the indictment and the surrounding investigation.

Most of the defense's questions of Knight were not allowed by the judge after Assistant State's Attorney Viki Pauler objected to them.

Knight this week told The Herald-Mail his investigators were aware of the case and that precautionary measures were taken to ensure the safety of one of the department's investigators.

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