The Crime Scene: Serious charges dropped in cutting

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By Matt Zapotosky
Wednesday, November 10, 2010; 5:25 PM

Prosecutors have dropped the most serious charges against the man accused of cutting three University of Maryland students and another man outside a College Park bar last month, authorities said.

Leonardo Alonso Ramos, 21, had been charged with attempted second degree murder and other related counts in connection with the incident. On Wednesday, prosecutors dropped the attempted murder charges, though they are still pursuing second-degree assault charges, authorities said.

Ramon V. Korionoff, a spokesman for Prince George's State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, said detectives uncovered surveillance footage after filing charges that showed Ramos was acting in self-defense when he cut the four people with a folding knife. Witnesses also supported that account, which Ramos had offered initially, Korionoff said.

"Ramos was being beaten by several individuals. He used his pocket knife in self defense," Korionoff said.

Korionoff said the second-degree assault charges stem from an attack inside The Thirsty Turtle. That incident eventually led to the cutting outside, police have said. The Thirsty Turtle has since forfeited its liquor license under pressure from University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell and the county's Board of License Commissioners.

Police have said the people Ramos stabbed were too drunk to give detailed statements on what happened. None of their injuries was life threatening, police said.

Police had also said Ramos acted as if he had done something wrong -- fleeing the scene and shaving his head to avoid detection. He eventually was arrested after his image was caught on surveillance camera, and family members, approached by police, convinced him to turn himself in.

On Wednesday, Prince George's Police Public Affairs Commander Maj. Andrew Ellis said detectives supported the state's attorney's decision to pursue lesser charges. He said the initial charges were filed based on what detectives knew at the time, and as is frequently the case, further investigation produced new evidence.

Korionoff said prosecutors are still weighing whether to charge those cut. Three of the victims were University of Maryland students; the other was Ramos's own brother, police have said.

"We are working through evidence and other matters to help determine our next course of action," he said.

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