- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A St. Mary’s court commissioner made no specific reference to John Otha Dickens Jr.’s initial arrest this month on domestic assault charges, in court papers setting a $5,000 bond requirement for a second set of more serious assault charges.
Dickens, 24, was back in jail by midday last Thursday, on no bond, after a hearing before St. Mary’s District Judge Christy Holt Chesser, requested by county prosecutors. St. Mary’s State’s Attorney Richard Fritz (R) had characterized Dickens’ release by the court commissioner’s office, on a lower bond than in his first case, as a decision that did “defy all logic and can only suggest that the district court commissioner was confused in his decision-making process.”
Dickens’ initial arrest at the beginning of last week, on charges alleging he twice beat on a girlfriend’s head and body, was followed by his release on a $7,500 bond required by court commissioner James Karaczynski, who ordered that Dickens have no contact with the woman and not return to her address as a condition of his pretrial release.
On the morning of Monday, Oct. 21, charging papers allege, Dickens was back at the woman’s home, where he cut her friend and daughter with a knife and was attacking the woman again in a bedroom when St. Mary’s sheriff’s Cpl. John Kirkner shot and wounded Dickens.
Dickens was flown to a hospital for treatment of his injuries, sheriff’s detectives report, before he was released from the hospital and arrested again on Tuesday, Oct. 22, on new charges from the previous day’s incident, including three felony offenses of first-degree assault.
The charges application mentioned Dickens’ earlier arrest, and the conditions of his release.
Court commissioner Roy Wetzel set a bond requirement of $5,000 for Dickens’ pretrial release on the felony charges, making no reference to the initial arrest, but setting conditions that Dickens “obey all laws” and “obey all court orders.” Dickens was released later that day on the $5,000 bond, posted in both cases by a bondsman in Baltimore, until the prosecutor’s request last Wednesday, Oct. 23, that Dickens’ bond be revoked was granted by a judge.
Wetzel, on duty Tuesday morning at the commissioner’s office, declined to discuss the matter and referred questions to the area judicial district’s administrative commissioner and a commissioner administrative assistant, neither of whom could be reached for comment.
Kirkner, a 13-year veteran of the St. Mary’s sheriff’s office, remains on administrative leave as detectives and internal-affairs officers further investigate the matter, according to a spokesperson for the office.
Dickens’ father, 48-year-old John Otha Dickens Sr., is serving a life sentence in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder in the 2004 shooting death of his estranged wife as she knelt on the floor of her mother’s home in Lexington Park’s Westbury neighborhood, not long after he also had been granted pretrial release following domestic assault charges.