ELKTON — Prosecutors have dropped their case against a man who stood accused of burning his 2-year-old son with lit cigarettes inside an Elkton residence, citing the death of a “critical witness” for the state — the woman who maintained she had witnessed the alleged child abuse, according to the Cecil County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Assistant State’s Attorney Nathaniel Bowen dismissed all five charges against the defendant, Matthew Thomas Hodgson Jr., 32, of the unit block of Hollingsworth Manor in Elkton, on Sept. 3, court records show. The dismissed charges included second-degree custodial child abuse, second-degree assault and child neglect, according to court records.
After the hearing in which the state dropped its case against him, Hodgson was released from the Cecil County Detention Center, where he had spent three months as a pre-trial inmate, court records show.
The investigation started at approximately 12:05 a.m. on June 5, after Hodgson’s live-in girlfriend – the mother of his child — walked into the Elkton Police Department station on Railroad Avenue and reported that Hodgson had assaulted her inside their residence, police said.
As a result of the alleged assault, police added, the woman suffered injuries to her head.
While reporting that alleged assault in June, the woman also told an EPD detective that she had witnessed Hodgson assault their son, who turns 3 in December, on numerous occasions during the past month, police reported.
As a result of the investigation, the child was placed into a “licensed Cecil County foster home,” an action that was part of an intervention, police reported at the time.
Court records indicate that Hodgson’s jury trial had been scheduled to start on Feb. 3.
However, after learning that Hodgson’s live-in girlfriend had died at some point after his arrest — leaving the state without pivotal eyewitness testimony to present at trial — prosecutors elected to dismiss all charges against Hodgson, explained Steven Barlow, a SAO investigator and spokesman.