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Man accused of waving knife at playground acquitted

November 09, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — A Washington County Circuit Court jury this week acquitted a Hagerstown man of assault and other charges for allegedly waving a knife at children on the Bester Elementary School playground.

In her opening statement Monday, Defense attorney Kathleen McClernan invoked former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, telling the jury her client, Glen Keith Hawkins, acted as a “daddy grizzly” —  a reference to a Palin metaphor about the “momma grizzly” defending its young.

Hawkins, 33, of 115 S. Mulberry St., was charged with three counts each of first- and second-degree assault and one count of reckless endangerment in the March 12 incident.

Officer Ryan Wertz of the Hagerstown Police Department testified he went to Bester Elementary at 6:25 p.m. for a report of a fight in progress. There was no fight when he arrived, but he received another dispatch about a fight outside the Corner Pub a few blocks away, Wertz testified.

Wertz told the court that there was a large group of people “pointing at a male sitting on the steps of the Corner Pub.” Wertz wrote in the statement of probable cause that there were about 50 people “in the street and on the sidewalk screaming.”

Hawkins told the officer he went to the playground after a nephew and another boy ran up and said kids there had stolen a bicycle and basketball from them, Wertz testified.

Wertz said he interviewed three minors who told him Hawkins swung a knife at them. Two of the three juveniles testified, and one of them, a 12-year-old boy from Pennsylvania, testified the blade touched his stomach, although he was not cut.

The boy testified Hawkins came to the playground and yelled, “Who hurt my kids?,” and that Hawkins “got a knife out and started swinging it at my cousin.”

The boy testified he saw someone take a basketball from one of Hawkins’ children and that there was some kind of fight, but he did not know how it started.

“He was just going wild with the knife for no reason,” a 15-year-old girl testified, although she said she thought one of his children might have been hurt playing football.

There were two witnesses who were not part of the disturbance. One, a 16-year-old boy, testified for the prosecution that he heard Hawkins yelling and turned to see him pointing a knife at some kids. He also testified there was a large group surrounding Hawkins.

When Hawkins left with his children, the teenager testified he heard him yell about being hit with a rock.

Hawkins said people in the crowd threw rocks and bricks at him, Wertz testified. The officer took pictures of bruises on Hawkins’ chest that were entered into evidence.

Hawkins did not take the stand, but one of his sons, a 9-year-old, testified he did not see his father pull a knife.

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