ELKTON — A man who stabbed a fellow guest at an Elkton motel in September 2020 during a dispute regarding money that the defendant purportedly owed the victim has been sentenced to time served — approximately one year — after accepting a plea deal, according to Cecil County Circuit Court records.
Cecil County Circuit Court Judge William W. Davis Jr. imposed a seven-year sentence on the defendant, Malachi Curtis Smith, 24, of the 200 block of Little New York Road near Rising Sun, on Wednesday and then suspended all but the time that Smith had served in the county jail on no bond since his arrest on Sept. 20, 2020.
Davis sentenced Smith moments after the defendant had pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, as part of a plea agreement in which prosecutors, in exchange, dismissed the more serious first-degree assault charge. That offense carries a maximum 25-year sentence; second-degree assault is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The judge then ordered Smith to serve 18 months of supervised probation, listing several conditions, including submitting to random drug tests.
Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Christopher Nelson and Smith’s defense lawyer, David Elliott Kindermann, negotiated the plea deal.
Court records indicate that the investigation leading to Smith’s arrest, conviction and sentence started at approximately 2:10 a.m. on Sept. 20, 2020, when Elkton Police Department officers, along with paramedics, rushed to the Sunrise Inn in the 200 block of Belle Hill Road after receiving a complaint concerning a stabbing.
Officers found the stabbing victim inside Room 223, where he and his fiance had been staying, police reported.
Investigators documented a one-inch wide puncture wound under the victim’s left shoulder blade, in the area of his ribs, and noticed that he appeared to have difficulty breathing as a result of the injury, according to court records.
An ambulance crew transported the victim to Christiana Hospital in Delaware “due to the severity” of his wound, court records show.
During a police interview at that hospital later that day, the victim told investigators that Smith stabbed him while they were together in Room 443 of the Sunrise Inn, where Smith had been staying, according to court records.
“(The victim) advised the incident was over a money debt that (Smith) was not willing to pay and as a result (Smith) stabbed him,” court records show.
Investigators were able to easily recover the knife used in the stabbing because it still was stuck in the victim when he left Room 443, where the stabbing had occurred, police said. The victim made his way back to Room 223, where had been staying, and then removed the knife from his back, police added.
During a police interview, which occurred at EPD’s headquarters at approximately 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 20, 2020, some five and a half hours after the incident, Smith admitted that he stabbed the man – but then maintained that he did so in self-defense, according to court records.
Two other criminal matters
In other action that took place during Wednesday’s courtroom hearing, prosecutors placed a second case against Smith on the stet, or inactive, docket, and the judge imposed a suspended five-year sentence on Smith in a third criminal matter.
In the older of those two other criminal cases, investigators filed six charges against Smith, including possession of a concealed weapon and possession of contraband in a place of confinement, after investigators confiscated a lighter, a homemade knife and homemade alcoholic beverage that Smith allegedly had stashed under his bed at the Cecil County Detention Center.
Investigators seized those items and charged Smith on Dec. 23, 2020 — some three months after Smith had been arrested and charged in the Elkton motel stabbing case, court records show. Smith was a pre-trial inmate in that Elkton motel stabbing case at the time.
Court records indicate that a CCDC corrections officer found the alleged contraband beneath Smith’s cell bed during a tier lockdown, which had been spurred by a “heated argument” between two other inmates and a related, possible assault.
Charging documents relating to that criminal case against Smith include the words “hootch” and “shank,” jailhouse slang for homemade alcohol and a crudely-fashioned knife respectively.
During Wednesday’s proceeding, prosecutors elected to place that criminal case against Smith on the stet docket.
In a stetted case, the charges remain open for three years, before the state can dismiss them. During the first year, the state can pursue prosecution of the defendant without providing a reason. It can pursue prosecution of the defendant during the next two years, too; however, prosecutors must first convince a judge that good-faith reason exists to do so.
As for the more recent of those two other criminal cases handled during Wednesday’s hearing, Davis imposed a five-year sentence on Smith and then suspended all of that penalty, after the defendant pleaded guilty to possession of a weapon while in a place of confinement, court records show.
That criminal case relates to Cecil County Detention Center investigators linking Smith to a weapon that was confiscated on Feb. 18 — five months after Smith was charged and jailed in the Elkton motel stabbing case and less than two months after a CCDC guard had found the alleged lighter, the alleged homemade alcohol and the alleged handcrafted knife under Smith’s cell bed, according to court records.
After imposing the suspended five-year sentence in that criminal case, the judge placed Smith on 18 months of supervised probation, court records show.