Reporting Alex DeMetrick
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WJZ)– A dangerous threat to coworkers or just a joke? It turns out that choice was never decided in the trial of Neil Prescott, which was sometimes referred to as the “Joker Case.”
Alex DeMetrick reports the judge threw out the charges against Prescott.
It was just about one year ago Neil Prescott was arrested. It took only 90 minutes for charges against him to be dismissed.
Last July, Neil Prescott was home on medical leave from a head injury when he talked by phone with a coworker in a Prince George’s County business, allegedly saying “I am a joker and I’m going to load my guns and blow everybody up.” He allegedly singled out one man.
“He said, `I want that individual’s brains scattered against the wall,” said Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks.
When arrested at his Crofton home three days later, a large cache of guns and ammunition were found—all with legal permits. There is no Maryland law against making a threat to cause mass harm.
“Telephone harassment was as close as we could get,” Alsobrooks said.
But in court, it never got that far. Wording in the charging document forced the judge to dismiss the case. Citing a Maryland law, the document read, “Repeated annoying calls with intent to harass, embarrass or threaten.” That “or” should have been an “and,” singing out the threat charge or lumped all the charges together. Prescott’s lawyer pointed out that bit of legal language and claimed his client was only joking with a coworker.
“Whether or not he intended as a joke or not, you are not allowed to make a joke like this when people’s lives are at stake,” Alsobrooks said.
The calls happened just days after the Colorado movie theater massacre. That upped the concern then and law enforcement stands behind its action now.
“We acted on his threats. He made those threats, no one else. He had the capability to carry them out,” said Prince George’s County Police Chief Mark Magaw.
Whether the prosecution files new charges with more exact language is under review.
With charges dismissed, the prosecution says Neil Prescott is now free to claim his guns and ammunition from the ATF.