Attempted-murder charge dropped against man accused in stabbing at College Park bar

By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 10, 2010; 9:02 PM

Prosecutors have dropped the most serious charges against a 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 counts in connection with the incident. On Wednesday, prosecutors dropped the attempted-murder charge, although they were pursuing second-degree assault charges, authorities said.

Ramon V. Korionoff, a spokesman for Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey (D), said that after filing the initial charges, detectives found surveillance footage that showed Ramos was acting in self-defense when he cut four people with a folding knife. That reflected Ramos's account to police, which witnesses supported, Korionoff said.

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

Korionoff said the second-degree assault charges stem from an attack in the Thirsty Turtle bar that led to the incident outside. The Thirsty Turtle has since forfeited its liquor license under pressure from U-Md. Police Chief David Mitchell and the county's Board of License Commissioners after a sting involving underage drinking.

Police have said the people stabbed by Ramos were too drunk to give statements. Their injuries were not life-threatening.

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

Maj. Andrew Ellis, a county police spokesman, said Wednesday that detectives supported the state's attorney's decision to pursue lesser charges. He said that the initial charges were filed based on what detectives knew at the time but that the investigation produced new evidence.

Korionoff said prosecutors were weighing whether to charge the people who were cut. Three are U-Md. students; the other is Ramos's brother.

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

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