A Metro article March 14 incorrectly described WAMU radio. It is an FM station. (Published 3/15/03)
Calling it a "major failure," Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson yesterday questioned State's Attorney Glenn Ivey's handling of a domestic violence case that ended with a murder-suicide in Oxon Hill on Tuesday.
"No way he should have walked out of the courtroom," Johnson said of Tyrone Dyson, who went free Monday after promising in Prince George's District Court that he would stay away from his estranged wife if charges of second-degree assault and threatened arson were dropped. But less than 24 hours later, Dyson went to the home he had shared with Ernestine Dyson, shot her in the head and turned the handgun on himself, according to police.
"In my mind that's a major failure," Johnson said on WAMU-AM radio in response to a question about the incident. "It's the prosecutor's obligation to make certain that these things don't happen."
Ivey said the case shouldn't be made into a political feud.
"I'm not interested in a blame game with Jack Johnson," Ivey said. "That doesn't help the county. . . . We've got real issues in Prince George's to focus on addressing. There are real concerns in this case."
Ivey said that he has asked to have a meeting with Johnson to discuss the case and any other issues the county executive feels the need to raise. "Whatever his concerns are, we need to figure them out and put it to rest," Ivey said
Ironically, Ivey said, Johnson made the remarks while Ivey was meeting with the county sheriff, the chief of police, the head of the Department of Corrections and the county's chief administrative officer about the case and "how to make the system better."
Part of the discussion focused on how to provide prosecutors full access to information on defendants' criminal backgrounds. He said prosecutors had had some, but not all, of the information about Dyson's previous charges.
Dyson's case was placed on an inactive docket after his wife told a prosecutor that she didn't care if her husband, who had been in jail for 44 days, served any more time. She just wanted him to leave her alone, officials said. Dyson was free to go, and attorneys agreed that the matter would be dismissed if Dyson didn't commit any more crimes. Johnson said such matters were handled differently when he ran the state's attorney's office.
"I have never allowed someone who had battered a spouse to walk out of my courtroom," Johnson said. "It's irrelevant what the spouse says. . . . Every attorney in my court knew that under no circumstances should a person walk out."
According to officials, though, a 1998 domestic violence case during Johnson's tenure as prosecutor also resulted in a murder.
George Trenton "Ricky" Bobbitt killed his former girlfriend after being charged with twice violating a protective order. Prosecutors put those charges on the inactive docket five months before Zipporah Genora Mack was killed. Prosecutors at the time said Mack didn't want Bobbitt to go to jail.
Walter Dozier, a spokesman for Johnson, said the county executive was not available to answer questions about Ivey's remarks or the 1998 case.
The Dyson case is the second public spat between Johnson and Ivey, both Democrats, within the last week.
Ivey expressed unhappiness last week about Johnson's decision to hire Tae H. Kim as an assistant prosecutor -- at the recommendation of a campaign contributor -- after he won the Democratic primary Sept. 10 and appeared certain to become county executive. Ivey, on his way to becoming state's attorney, thought hiring decisions should have waited for the new prosecutor.
Kim resigned this week after The Washington Post reported he is an investor in one topless club and part-time manager of another.