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Charges dropped in dragging death

The Baltimore Sun

City prosecutors dropped manslaughter charges yesterday against a driver accused of running over a 65-year-old man and dragging him about 40 feet last year in East Baltimore.

Margaret T. Burns, a spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office, said police have not been able to identify the author of an anonymous letter who identified Montay Jackson, 35, as the driver of the SUV that ran over Charles R. Erdman after a minor accident March 3, 2007.

The accident occurred in the 5800 block of Erdman Ave., in front of the auto parts store where Erdman worked.

Baltimore police have said that Erdman got out of his 1986 Ford truck to get insurance information from the driver of the Ford Explorer, who said he was in a hurry. Erdman then stood in front of the green, two-door SUV with his hands raised and ordered the driver to wait.

Instead, the driver accelerated at him. A witness told police that after the driver dragged Erdman, the witness watched the driver stop, open his door, look under the car and accelerate again, driving over Erdman.

Burns said police have not been able to find the SUV. The anonymous letter said that the driver "didn't mean to kill him," and that he was sending the letter because "it was wrong regardless," according to court records.

"It's better to continue the investigation and try to gather more evidence, than to try [Jackson] and lose," Burns said.

People cannot be tried twice for the same crime. By dropping the charges before trial, prosecutors can recharge Jackson, of the 600 block of Yale Ave., if police obtain more evidence.

According to court records, one of the witnesses gave police a license plate number to the Explorer, but the plates had been stolen in February, making it impossible to trace ownership of the vehicle back to Jackson.

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