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Evidence inadmissible against man accused of attempted murder

Charges are set to be dropped against Jason Keith Bryan

September 17, 2010|By DON AINES

Evidence against a Hagerstown man indicted for attempted murder is not admissible in court because police did not have probable cause to arrest him two years ago, according to an opinion and order written by Washington County Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr.

Charges against Jason Keith Bryan, 40, of 27 S. Locust St., are scheduled to be dismissed Thursday in circuit court, Assistant State's Attorney Gina Cirincion said Friday.

Bryan was indicted in April on charges of attempted first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and carrying a concealed dangerous weapon, court records show. The indictments were related to the stabbing of Christopher Lynn Pepple, 30, formerly of 25 S. Locust St., court records show.

Pepple was found by two passers-by behind 228 E. Antietam St. on the night of Nov. 27, 2008, court documents show. He had been stabbed in the neck and chest, Long wrote in his Sept. 10 opinion.

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The delay between the stabbing and Bryan's indictment "was apparently caused by (Hagerstown Police Department's) inability to have the DNA analysis conducted in a timely manner," Long wrote.

Bryan was represented by Eric Reed and Brian Hutchison of the Public Defender's Office at an Aug. 17 suppression hearing. They argued that there was no probable cause for his initial arrest on a charge of carrying a concealed dangerous weapon because it was a penknife, which is permitted under Maryland law, Long's opinion stated.

Any evidence obtained as a result of his arrest should be suppressed, the defense argued, according to Long's opinion.

The state contended Bryan gave the arresting officer probable cause because he was a person of interest in the case, assumed a defensive posture when approached by the officer and "made furtive gestures toward his waistband," Long wrote.

Bryan was taken to police headquarters, where he signed a Miranda form indicating he understood his rights, gave a statement to police, allowed them to take DNA samples, handed over some of his clothing and consented to a search of his home, Long wrote.

Bryan was released by police and not taken into custody for the stabbing until his indictment in April, Long wrote.

"There is no doubt in the Court's mind that the Defendant was arrested ... for possession of a concealed weapon" and not for some other infraction of the law, Long wrote. However, the carrying of a penknife, either concealed or openly, is not illegal, he wrote.

"The arrest of Mr. Bryan was not supported by probable cause," Long wrote.

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