Stabbing Case Crumbles Amid Claims Of Withheld Evidence
WILKES-BARRE — County prosecutors on Tuesday dropped aggravated assault charges against a man accused of a brutal stabbing after revealing in court they had no evidence tying him to the crime.
Jeremy Sonny, 32, of Wilkes-Barre, was accused of ambushing the victim, Jerome Carmichael, following a dispute involving a woman at a party in the 300 block of Stanton Street early the morning of May 28, 2017. Prosecutors alleged Sonny repeatedly stabbed Carmichael with a large knife, leaving Carmichael to bleed out on the sidewalk.
In court Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Gene Molino requested the charges be dismissed, saying Carmichael is unable to identify his attacker.
Luzerne County Judge Joseph F. Sklarosky Jr. noted that Sonny was accused of approaching the victim from behind and stabbing him repeatedly with an 8-10 inch knife, causing Carmichael’s insides to protrude.
“Those are very concerning facts,” Sklarosky said.
The judge noted Sonny had also previously waived his right to a preliminary hearing and agreed to plead guilty to a count of aggravated assault in exchange for a sentence of time served.
But defense attorney Theron J. Solomon alleged prosecutors broke the law by withholding exculpatory evidence and said that as a result, the plea agreement was based on an incomplete view of the case.
The charges against Sonny say that Carmichael’s girlfriend identified the attacker as “Uncle Jeremy” and “immediately identified Jeremy Sonny” in a photo lineup. Solomon said he was informed at the preliminary hearing that Carmichael was also able to identify Sonny.
In fact, prosecutors knew at that point that Carmichael could not identify Sonny, he said.
“The plea agreement was based up a Brady violation — the withholding of information,” Solomon said, referencing the U.S. Supreme Court case of Brady v. Maryland.
Sklarosky did not rule on whether the prosecution made such a violation.
Molino, who was not involved in the case during the preliminary hearing, told the court that in addition to Carmichael being unable to identify his attacker, his girlfriend’s parents have been uncooperative and that she is now “nowhere to be found.”
“I certainly wish that the defendant abided by the preliminary hearing agreement,” Molino said. “I just can’t in good conscience go to trial. I don’t think there’s anything to present (to a jury).”
Sklarosky then closed the case against Sonny, who walked out of the courtroom a free man.