Calvert Man Charged With Bludgeoning Housemate

By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 10, 2007

When Carliease Berry saw an old acquaintance at a Calvert County post office Jan. 2, she remembered his criminal past. It had touched her family.

"Clyde, you're looking good," Berry told him. "Stay out of trouble, and enjoy 2007."

"Oh, yeah. You're right. I'm straightened up," Berry recalled Clyde Chew responding.

Five days later, on the night of Chew's 71st birthday, he slammed an eight-pound maul into his housemate's head and back as the man lay in bed, police say.

According to a charging document, Chew, who is 5-foot-9 and weighs 163 pounds, then carried the maul to another sleeping housemate and said: "I told you I was going to get your brother. You're next."

That housemate escaped to a neighbor's house. But his brother did not, bludgeoned to death in a county that has recorded just two homicides in the past two years.

Killing by maul is even more rare. The tool is a combination ax-sledgehammer, typically with a three-foot wooden handle. Its metal end has a bladed side, like an ax, and a blunt side, like a sledgehammer. To split wood, users swing the tool blade first. Authorities say they believe Chew struck the victim at least once with the sharp side of the maul.

Doctors at the Maryland state medical examiner's office yesterday said they could not recall any maul homicides dating back to at least 1994. "We do get maybe one or two ax cases a year," said Mary Ripple, deputy chief medical examiner.

Calvert authorities say that after the victim's brother escaped to his neighbor's, the neighbor called police. County and state officers arrived to find Chew standing on the front porch of his house. Authorities say that they found a bloody maul inside the house and that Chew had been drinking. They arrested Chew, charging him with first- and second-degree murder and first-degree assault.

Authorities identified the victim as Clifton Jacks, 49. They said that during the attack, Jacks's mother, said to be about 80, was also in the house, which she visits often.

At a hearing yesterday, District Court Judge Stephen L. Clagett ordered Chew held on no bond, siding with a prosecutor who ticked off his lengthy criminal record as evidence of Chew being a threat to the community.

In 1956, Chew was convicted of second-degree murder, Calvert State's Attorney Laura L. Martin said. Almost 20 years later, he pleaded guilty to assault and battery charges, she said.

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