Attempted Murder Charge Dropped

By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Prince George's County prosecutors dropped attempted murder and assault charges against a Hyattsville man after they determined that the arresting officer included details in charging documents about the weapons that conflicted with the victim's account.

The same officer, Pfc. Michael Soden, has been ordered by a judge in an unrelated case to stay away from a female prosecutor whom he was accused of harassing.

In the attempted murder case, Darnell E. Williams, 25, was charged Oct. 3 by Soden, who at the time was a patrol officer assigned to the 1st District in Hyattsville. Williams was also charged with first- and second-degree assault.

In a pretrial hearing in the case April 10, Assistant State's Attorney Nycole Grissett told a judge that she did not believe the account in the statement of charges sworn out by Soden.

On May 3, a judge dismissed the charges against Williams at the request of prosecutors. Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey (D), said they were dropped because the victim failed to appear at the trial and because the state lacked confidence in the accuracy of Soden's charging document.

Williams, who had spent more than six months in jail, was released.

Soden declined to comment this week; his attorney did not return a phone call.

According to Soden's charging document, Williams attacked Aaron Franklin with an eight-inch knife and a five-pound hammer.

Soden wrote that about 6:30 p.m. Oct. 3, he went to an apartment complex in the 5200 block of Kenilworth Avenue after someone reported that a man was chasing people in the parking lot with a knife and a hammer. Williams used the knife to cut Franklin on the left arm, according to the statement.

Korionoff and Thomas C. Mooney, Williams's defense attorney, said Franklin told prosecutors that Williams did not attack him with a hammer or an eight-inch knife.

Franklin told prosecutors that Williams wielded a stick and a pocketknife, Korionoff said.

During a bench conference at the April 10 hearing, Grissett told Circuit Court Judge Michael P. Whalen that Soden was under investigation by the police department over allegations that he had threatened a prosecutor.

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