Citing insufficient evidence, the state's attorney dropped charges yesterday against a 32-year-old Arnold man charged in the 1989 slaying of a Glen Burnie teen-ager.
Mark John Loetz of the 900 block of Burnett Ave. will still spend the next year in the county detention center, where he has been held since December for violating terms of probation on a drug distribution conviction, according to detention center officials.
The dismissal was formally approved yesterday by Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. in a brief hearing.
State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee later said he concluded after a review of the evidence that he did not have enough evidence to win a conviction if the case had gone to trial. "You always want to be right on the first try, but that isn't always the case," he said.
Mr. Weathersbee said the investigation into the death of Mary Kathleen Grant, 15, of the 200 block of Vernon Ave. will continue.
"We've been asked to reopen the case and we'll certainly be happy to do that," said county police Detective Pat Riordan, an investigator in the case. He declined to comment on the decision to drop the charges.
Loetz declined to comment as he was led from the courtroom in handcuffs.
"We're as happy as can be about this," said his father, John F. Loetz.
The victim's father said that he supported the state's attorney's position and still hopes his daughter's killer is convicted.
"If they didn't think they had enough evidence, then I have to go with that," said Charles Grant of Glen Burnie.
He said he would rather the state's attorney try the case with evidence he is confident will win a conviction, than risk losing.
"It's better to be right the first time, than to play your hand and lose," he said.
Police found the victim's body on Jan. 29, 1989, in a wooded field near West Pasadena and Jumpers Hole roads in Pasadena, next to a blood-spattered wall of an old cement building near a popular teen-age party spot.
Her parents had filed a police report Jan. 19 that their daughter, a chronic runaway, was missing.
Loetz was charged with murder in November, after a new team of investigators reopened the case. Police found witnesses who said Loetz was seen leaving the Earleigh Heights Tavern with the Grant girl the night of the slaying and that he talked about killing her at a party in Arnold a week after the slaying.
Assistant public defender Kendel L. Sibiski, Loetz' attorney, said that her client was charged three years after the killing not because of any new evidence, but because a new group of police investigators took over the case.
"I'm glad to see that justice was served. I just wish that state's attorney had reviewed the case more carefully before the charges were filed," she said.
Loetz was indicted by a county grand jury Dec. 29.
Mr. Weathersbee said yesterday that he knew of no additional witnesses that had come forward to prompt the 1992 charges.
"I don't know that there was any particularly different information that was developed by the police," he said. "We felt that it was very close, the chance of getting additional information was extremely limited, and so we presented it to the grand jury."