A wording error led to a charge being dropped against a Crofton man accused of threatening to blow up his Lanham office last year.
Neil Prescott, 29, had been charged with one misdemeanor count of misuse of a telephone to make repeated calls with the intent to annoy, abuse, torment, harass or embarrass another. Prescott allegedly made repeated calls during which he called himself the “Joker” and threatened to blow up everyone up at his former workplace, postage machine supplier Pitney Bowes in Lanham.
Prince George’s County District Court Judge Patrice E. Lewis dropped the charge Tuesday stating the charging document was defective because the count said “or” instead of “and.” The wording would mean the prosecution only had to prove one part of the charge true and if one part was not able to be proved, they could try each of the others.
“You don’t get to pick several intents,” Lewis said. “The state cannot go forward and only provide partial truth.”
The threats allegedly occurred just days after a mass shooting at the showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., where the suspect also identified himself as the Joker, a villain in the Batman comic book series, and killed 12 people.
When Prescott was arrested, about 20 legally obtained firearms and 400 rounds of ammunition were seized from his Crofton home by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to a news release from the Prince George’s County state’s attorney’s office.
Maryland Criminal Law Section 3-804 says a person may not use a telephone to make repeated calls with the intent to annoy, abuse, torment, harass or embarrass another.
William C. Brennan Jr., Prescott’s defense attorney, included in his argument to dismiss the charges that the charge document was defective, and that Prescott had a concussion and was joking when he made the threats to his coworker.
John Erzen, communications director for the state’s attorney’s office, said that because of the wording, the defense could argue that they didn’t know where the state was going with the charges.
The state’s attorney’s office has not decided yet whether it will attempt to refile the case, Erzen said.