For Immediate Release: 9/11/17
Howard County, Maryland— Edward Witherspoon was sentenced by a Howard County Judge to 40 years in prison. Baltimore City Assistant State’s Attorney (ASA) Katherine Smeltzer and Howard County ASA Colleen McGuinn joined forces to prosecute Witherspoon in two separate sexual assault cases in May and June of 2017.
In January 2015, Howard County police received a report from a woman who believed she had been drugged and sexually assaulted after a night out at a bar in Fells Point. The woman told police she had left her drink unattended at the bar and did not remember anything following her return to her drink. The woman woke up—mostly nude—the following morning in Witherspoon’s basement apartment in Howard County. She had never met Witherspoon prior to the assault.
The woman asked Witherspoon if they had sex. Witherspoon said he only gave the woman a massage, and gave the woman a ride home. She was still under the influence of the drug she was given the previous evening.
In January 2016, a Baltimore woman reported being sexually assaulted after a night of drinking at Power Plant Live. The woman told police she woke up in Witherspoon’s Howard County basement apartment in the middle of a sexual act. She blacked out again, and was awaken at 6:30 am by Witherspoon, who said to her, “See how good I am to you? I wake you up for class in the morning.” The two had not met previously.
When the woman got out of Witherspoon’s bed, she noticed she was only wearing undergarments. Her shirt from the previous evening was covered in her own vomit. Witherspoon offered her a change of clothes. After getting dressed, she got into his silver four-door sedan. The passenger seat was wet with suspected vomit. Witherspoon dropped her off at her residence at Loyola University.
The woman reported the attack to the police and had a SAFE examination performed.
Loyola University Police Investigator Delsie Parker visited Power Plant Live to canvass the area. Officer Parker observed a silver sedan matching the description the woman had given parked outside of Power Plant Live. The vehicle was registered to Witherspoon.
After further investigation, police obtained statements from Power Plant Live security staff and a Loyola student who was trying to help the woman get home on the night of the attack. The student tried to put the woman in the taxi, but she did not have cash so she was placed into Witherspoon’s vehicle—believing he was an Uber driver.
“Baltimore Police Detective Brian Allman and Loyola Investigator Delsie Parker conducted an excellent investigation to determine a suspect and a crime location,” said ASA Katherine Smeltzer. “Ultimately, the victim was able to identify her rapist and we had DNA evidence to confirm his identity.”
The DNA evidence collected in the second attack linked him to the first victim from the bar in Fells Point. ASA Smeltzer and ASA McGuinn decided to prosecute both cases in Howard County. They filed motions to offer ‘other crimes’ evidence in each case to combat the consent defense, but after a hearing their motion was denied. Therefore, the cases had to be tried separately, with juries in each respective case unaware of the victim and evidence in the other case.
“I’ve been fighting for more than four years to change Maryland Rules of Evidence to allow the victims of serial rapists and child molesters to testify in the same trial against their attacker,” said State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. “At the federal level, prosecutors can join cases—but in Maryland, it is virtually impossible. This must change, if we ever want to fully protect Maryland residents from serial pedophiles and rapists.”
State’s Attorney Mosby plans to join her colleagues and other advocates from across Maryland to reintroduce legislation aimed at solving this limitation in the upcoming 2018 legislative session.