Baltimore man charged in Harford robbery freed, charges dismissed

A Baltimore man, who was being held on $1 million bail after being charged in connection with an armed robbery in Edgewood last June, was released from jail Friday after the state dismissed the charges against him.

Nicholas Patrick Keating, 23, of the 100 block of North Denison Street in Baltimore, was charged Wednesday with attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault, armed robbery and reckless endangerment.

He had been held on $1 million bond at the Harford County Detention Center since his arrest Wednesday, and a District Court judge had refused to reduce his bail during a hearing Thursday afternoon.

Friday afternoon, however, Keating was back before Judge Victor Butanis in District Court in Bel Air, where Assistant Harford County State's Attorney Joel Muneses announced the state had decided to nolle prosequi all the charges against Keating.

Keating, who was represented Friday by Bel Air attorney Karen Jones, was released from the Harford County Detention Center Friday afternoon.

Harford State's Attorney Joseph Cassilly wrote in an e-mail following Friday's brief court hearing that his office decided to dismiss the charges because "the crime is still under investigation, and there are some unanswered questions."

About 24-hours earlier, a public defender representing Keating in the same courtroom had strenuously argued for a bail reduction on the grounds the state's evidence against his client was weak at best.

In requesting reasonable bail Thursday afternoon, Public Defender Omar Simpson told Butanis that although the charges were "serious," Keating did not match the police description of the suspect.

Witnesses described a man with corn rows, Simpson said, which are close to the head, but Keating had very long dreadlocks which take years to grow. Keating also submitted to a DNA test, Simpson said, which a guilty man would not do so that willingly.

Butanis, however, pointed out that if there was a search warrant for the DNA, which Keating confirmed, then Keating did not have much of a choice but to submit. Keating also said he had offered to take a polygraph test.

Simpson also questioned the credibility of the "confidential informant" used to identify Keating and requested a bail that was consistent with other attempted murder cases in the past, which he said ranged from $50,000 to $250,000. To that, Butanis asked if the other charging documents included a stabbing in which the knife was left in the victim.

Keating is also a merchant marine, Simpson said, and has lived in Maryland his entire life.

In arguing against reduced bail Thursday, Assistant State's Attorney Elias Silverstein briefly described the charging documents, which state that two men entered the Edgewood KFC on June 4, 2011, one armed with a semi-automatic handgun and another with a large butcher's knife.

The man with the knife stabbed the KFC manager just below the neck in her shoulder and left the knife in there, he said.

When the man with the gun saw the "pool of blood," Silverstein said, they both fled. The woman was then taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore where the knife was removed from her shoulder.

Their confidential informant said that Keating had bragged about stabbing the woman, Silverstein said, adding there was also forensic evidence pending.

Butanis then agreed to uphold the initial bond, after Silverstein had said in his view, an attempted robbery that turned into an attempted murder made the $1 million bond acceptable.

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