Charges against the initial suspect in a baseball bat attack against an elderly man were dropped this week and another man arrested after new evidence surfaced in the Colmar Manor beating.
Edwin Manuel Gonzalez, 20, of Mount Rainier was newly charged with attempted first- and second-degree murder as well as assault and robbery after police said he beat a 72-year-old man with an aluminum baseball bat, Prince George's County police announced Thursday.
The attack happened around 6 a.m. Sept. 15 on the 3800 block of Bladensburg Road. According to police, the 72-year-old victim was waiting for the bus when a man approached him, pulling out a knife and demanding money. The man refused to hand over any money and the would-be robber walked away. However, the man returned a short time later with an aluminum baseball bat and began beating the elderly man with it. A witness managed to break up the attack by yelling at the attacker to stop and the man ran away.
The elderly man was hospitalized with severe injuries.
Within a week of the attack, police had arrested and charged 22-year-old Justin Strong after the elderly victim identified him out of a photo lineup. It was not clear Thursday why his photo was included in the photo line up shown to the victim.
However police and prosecutors said new information later surfaced, leading police to charge Mr. Gonzalez with the attack and to drop charges against Mr. Strong.
"At this point, Justin Strong isn't believed to have any connection with this crime," said county police spokesman Officer Edward Martin.
Mr. Strong was released from jail Sept. 28 and all charges were dropped, said John Erzen, spokesman for the Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office.
Mr. Erzen declined to go into detail over the new evidence that was uncovered in the case, but said that an unrelated person began providing information about the attack after he was arrested on an open warrant for failure to appear in court.
"He starts talking about this attack which leads them to three other people," Mr. Erzen said. "That led police down a new road and they continued to investigate, which is how they developed Gonzalez as a suspect."
The home addresses listed for Mr. Gonzalez and Mr. Strong in court documents show that the two men live about two blocks from one another. The site of the attack is close to a mile away from each of their homes.
Mr. Gonzalez is currently being held in jail without bond. A preliminary hearing in his case is scheduled for Oct. 26. No attorney was listed in court records as representing him.
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