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Son of Baltimore police commander charged in killing

Baltimore prosecutors refer homicide investigation of Baltimore Police commander's son to county prosecutors

The son of a high-ranking Baltimore police commander has been charged with murder in the stabbing death of his roommate Monday in Southwest Baltimore, police said.

Melvin Russell, 28, the son of Lt. Col. Melvin Russell, was arrested Tuesday in connection with the killing, police said. The elder Russell leads the Police Department's Community Collaboration Unit and has been at the forefront of neighborhood outreach efforts at a time of heightened tensions.

The younger Russell was charged with first- and second-degree murder, assault and weapons violations. Police said he and his 49-year-old roommate got into a fight in the 4900 block of Challedon Road and both sustained stab wounds. Both were taken to hospitals, where the roommate was pronounced dead, police said. The victim was not identified. Russell was treated for his injuries and released.

Lt. Col. Melvin Russell did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.

The Baltimore state's attorney's office referred the case to Baltimore County prosecutors, citing a conflict of interest.

"State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby has a personal relationship with this family and felt it best to refer this case to an independent prosecutor," Mosby's office said in a statement.

Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger said Mosby called him Tuesday and asked if his office could oversee the case.

"I agreed to assign one of my prosecutors immediately to the case," Shellenberger said. "From this point forward, everything will be handled by my office."

Garret Glennon, chief of the Circuit Court division for the county state's attorney's office, is assigned to the case, he said.

Shellenberger said it is not unusual for a state's attorney to ask for an outside prosecutor if he or she has a possible conflict.

"Every county in the state does this on a fairly routine basis when there are potential conflicts," Shellenberger said.

Earlier this year, Mosby's office turned over the prosecution of Lt. Col. Clifton McWhite, who was charged with theft for allegedly using a phony diploma to earn extra pay, to an independent prosecutor, also citing a personal conflict.

The Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police tweeted their support of their colleague: "There are few men better than Lt. Col. Melvin Russell and we offer our total support as he and his family suffer through this trying time."

Baltimore Sun reporter Colin Campbell contributed to this report.

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