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Mistrial declared in case of man charged in rape, impersonating cop

Assistant State's Attorney says the state will seek retrial

April 21, 2010|By DON AINES

HAGERSTOWN -- A jury deliberated for more than six hours Wednesday in the case of a Frederick, Md., man charged with rape and impersonating a police officer before a mistrial was declared in Washington County Circuit Court.

Michael Allen Barnwell, 37, who is serving a prison sentence on another conviction, was being tried on charges of second-degree rape, second-degree sexual offense, fourth-degree sexual offense, robbery, second-degree assault, theft less than $500, false imprisonment and impersonating an officer, according to court records.

His trial began Tuesday and went to the jury late that afternoon.

Deliberations resumed Wednesday morning, and a note from the jury was given to Judge John H. McDowell at about 11 a.m. indicating one juror was holding out for a not-guilty verdict.

At about 2:30 p.m., McDowell told Assistant State's Attorney Gina Cirincion and defense attorney Mary Drawbaugh that he had received three more notes from the jury indicating "that there is one juror who is having some difficulty and wants to leave the jury room immediately," he said.

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The jury was called back to the courtroom, and McDowell declared a mistrial.

The state will seek to retry Barnwell, Cirincion told McDowell.

The incident for which Barnwell was on trial occurred at about 4 a.m. on Feb. 23, 2009, when a woman driving to work was stopped at a traffic light at the intersection of Potomac and Franklin streets in Hagerstown, according to trial testimony. The 50-year-old Hagerstown woman, testifying Tuesday with the assistance of a Cantonese interpreter, said a man in a dark sport utility vehicle pulled up alongside her car.

The man motioned for her to pull off the street and said he was a police officer, the woman testified. She pulled into a parking lot where the man ordered her into his vehicle, she testified.

Once inside the man's vehicle, he drove to a remote part of the parking lot, forced her to engage in a sexual act and to have sexual intercourse with him, she testifed. The man then took $100 from her, released her from the vehicle and drove away, she testified.

The woman testified she identified Barnwell from a photo lineup, and she pointed him out as her assailant in court. There was no DNA, fingerprints or other forensic evidence directly tying Barnwell to the assault, according to both Drawbaugh and Cirincion.

Barnwell was not charged in the incident until after an April 4, 2009, traffic stop in Hagerstown, according to trial testimony.

Hagerstown Police Detective Christopher Kayser testified Tuesday that Barnwell was driving his girlfriend's Pontiac Torrent when he was stopped April 4. Kayser testified that was the same type of vehicle police had been seeking in the Feb. 23 incident.

District Court records show that Barnwell was charged by the Washington County Sheriff's Office with second-degree assault and indecent exposure following the April 4 traffic stop. He pleaded guilty to second-degree assault Aug. 27, 2009, and was sentenced to three years in prison, according to court records.

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