Court

ELKTON — A jury trial for a man charged in an Elkton drug case ended suddenly Thursday, when the judge agreed that prosecutors had failed to meet their burden of proof and then granted a defense motion for judgment of acquittal on all counts.

Cecil County Circuit Court Judge William W. Davis Jr. granted the defense motion made by Elkton-based lawyer C. Evan Rollins on the second day of trial, moments after the state had rested its case against the defendant, Robert Hammond IV, 23, of Elkton.

Although the judgment of acquittal cleared Hammond of all charges in the drug case, he remained in the Cecil County Detention Center on Thursday in an unrelated matter. Hammond has been held at the county jail without bond since his April arrest in the drug case, court records show.

After Deputy State’s Attorney Patricia Fitzgerald rested the state’s case, Rollins argued that prosecutors had failed to produce a witness and, or, evidence proving that Hammond had knowledge that illegal drugs were hidden inside a Hollingsworth Manor residence that Elkton Police Department officers and Maryland State Police Gang Enforcement Unit agents raided April 1.

Rollins also maintained that prosecutors had failed to produce a witness and, or, evidence proving that Hammond was aware that there were illegal drugs in plain view inside a bedroom of that targeted house. Police testimony placed Hammond only outside that bedroom, elsewhere in the residence, Rollins contended in his successful defense motion for judgement of acquittal.

Although Hammond was inside the house when raiding officers arrived, Hammond was not a resident of that dwelling, which, according to court records, was the residence of one of his two relatives who also were arrested and charged in the case.

In addition to arguing that Hammond did not have knowledge of the illegal drugs inside that residence, Rollins asserted that his client did not have “dominion and control” over them.

EPD investigators had filed 12 charges against Hammond after the MSP’s GEU simultaneously raided two Hollingsworth Manor residences April 1 and confiscated more than 200 baggies of heroin mixed with fentanyl, a small amount of crack cocaine, hypodermic needles and other evidence, according to court records. The list of charges against Hammond included possession of heroin/fentanyl with intent to distribute.

Also arrested and charged was Hammond’s 21-year-old sister, Chelsey Marie Nicole Hammond, who, facing 20 drug-related charges in the case, is scheduled for a jury trial Wednesday, Aug. 21.

In addition, their mother, Crystal Hammond, 43, was arrested and charged. In May, however, prosecutors elected to dismiss 35 of the 42 charges against Crystal Hammond and to place the remaining seven on the stet, or inactive, docket during a Cecil County District Court proceeding, court records show.

(In a stetted case, the state can seek prosecution at any point during the next three years. However, during the last two years, the state must first convince a judge that good faith cause exists to prosecute.)

Investigators raided Chelsey Hammond’s residence in the 200 block of Hollingsworth Manor and her mother’s house in the unit block of Hollingsworth Manor, a short distance away, at approximately 10:30 a.m. April 1, police reported. Robert Hammond was at the residence in the 200 block of Hollingsworth Manor when raid occurred.

“Both homes were under investigation for drug trafficking, as they are believed to be working as a family unit while engaging in drug sales,” EPD Det. Lindsey Zeigenfuss, one of the investigators, explained in a district court charging document made public shortly after police had arrested the Hammonds.

Investigators found and seized a total of 217 baggies of heroin/fentanyl inside Chelsey Hammond’s residence, police said, adding that 150 had been stamped with a “Delaware Phillies” street logo, while the remaining 67 had been marked “Food Dog,” police said

They also seized 3 grams of crack cocaine, several needles, $655 and her cellphone, police added.

“While searching the contents of Chelsey Hammond’s phone, there were messages consistent with (drug) sales,” court records allege.

While raiding her mother’s residence, investigators confiscated a suspected drug sales ledger, a scale covered in “residue” and pill bottles containing 11 amphetamine pills, one Dilaudid and one Oxycodone, police reported.

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