CENTREVILLE — The final defendant in a case originally prosecuted as a hate crime pleaded guilty to second-degree assault Wednesday, June 1, in Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court and was sentenced by Judge Thomas Ross to five years in the Queen Anne’s County Detention Center with all but 180 days suspended.
Charles Mickey Brown, 25, of Chester Harbor pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree assault in exchange for the Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney’s Office dropping seven other charges, including the hate crime charge. A first-degree assault charge had previously been dismissed. The charges stemmed from an incident occurring July 4, 2015, at Howard’s Tavern, 6520 Church Hill Road in Chestertown that resulted in the injury of Nathan Cryder of Millington.
Dfc. Seth Ambrose of the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office responded to a reported assault outside the tavern at 1:26 a.m. According to charging documents, Ambrose found two injured men — one man bleeding from his head was sitting in the passenger seat of a pickup in the parking lot, and another man was laying on the ground in the rear of the parking lot being attended by emergency medical personnel.
The man on the ground was identified as Nathan Cryder by his driver’s license. He was flown by MedEvac helicopter to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore for treatment.
In Cryder’s statement to the police, he said he and his wife had gone to Howard’s to get beer “to go.” Cryder stayed outside, while his wife went in. While he was waiting, Cryder said he was struck in back; he turned around and recognized Chanelle Brown as the one who had struck him. Then three men with her, including Charles Brown, attacked him, punching and kicking him, throwing him into the brick wall where he hit his head and shoulder; Cryder said he was thrown to the ground and the men continued to punch and kick him until he lost consciousness.
The man whose head was bleeding was identified as Christopher Horan. During the attack on Cryder, Horan tried to intervene and protect Cryder and also was assaulted, charging documents state.
Four individuals were charged in the assault: Chanelle Brown, Javon Lee Ellis, Darius Wade and Charles Brown.
According to documents presented by the Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney Lance Richardson, Cryder identified Charles Brown as the person who body slammed Cryder to the ground thereby resulting in a broken collarbone and rotator cuff injury, which necessitated reconstructive surgery.
Both Richardson and Brown’s attorney Kathleen Kirchner stated racial slurs and epithets were a predominant factor in the incident. During the attack, Cryder was, according to charging documents called “cracker” and heard someone say, “F- that white boy up.”
Kirchner told the court the “N- word” was repeated frequently during the altercation.
According to Kirchner, there were two groups of people, several not identified, who participated in the racial tension, racial slurs and fight that occurred on July 4. Kirchner asked the judge to consider all the factors in the incident, including alcohol when he issued his sentence.
She told Ross there a history of “bad blood” between Brown and Cryder, dating back to an incident in high school when Cryder went to Brown’s house and began an argument.
Brown said he was willing to take responsibility for his part in the assault.
“I can’t take blame for everyone’s actions,” said Brown. “I take responsibility for my actions, what I did to defend myself.”
Richardson said Queen Anne’s County is a small community where victims are not faceless and nameless and not as familiar with this type of crime to the level of other urban areas such as Baltimore.
“We are a community where we should be able to co-exist,” Richardson said.
“There are no excuses for this type of activity,” Ross said. “Assaults are never appropriate.” Ross said he needed to send a message to that effect with this case.
Brown is to begin serving his sentence immediately. Ross allowed for work release and 24 months probation. He also ordered restitution to Cryder for unpaid medical expense.
Ross further advised Brown to have no contact with Cryder or Horan and to abstain from visiting any bars.
Chanelle Brown, 28, also of Chester Harbor, entered an Alford Plea on May 5, 2016, in Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court for the charge of second-degree assault. The additional charges of assault, disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment and harass/commit a crime upon an individual based on race or religious belief were dropped. Brown was sentenced to Queen Anne’s County Detention Center for a period 12 months, suspended all but four days to be served on two consecutive weekends. She was further ordered to have no contact with Cryder and pay court costs.
Javon Lee Ellis, 29, of Chestertown was charged with first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct and racial/religious harassment. But he died on April 17, 2016, prior to standing trial.
Darius Wade’s case was dismissed as he was a cooperating state’s witness.