Ocean City Today

‘Sir Rod’ cleared of assault charges on former girlfriend

Alleged victim passed away in December, rendering her statement hearsay in court
By Greg Ellison | Jan 18, 2018
Source: File Photo

(Jan. 19, 2018) Thomas Edward Braswell III, 57, of Ocean City, who performs regionally as a Rod Stewart impersonator “Sir Rod,” was found not guilty of second-degree assault as the alleged victim succumbed to pancreatic cancer in mid-December.

The charges stem from an incident on Sept. 14 where police responded to reports of disorderly subjects in first block of 93rd Street at approximately 8:20 p.m.

Officer Jessica Johnson, who responded to the call, testified in Ocean City District Court on Wednesday that she was met by Kelly Coughlin who said her boyfriend, later identified as Braswell, had assaulted and grabbed her by the throat about 30 minutes earlier and subsequently left the scene.

“I observed redness around her neck,” Johnson said. “She was crying and appeared in pain.”

At this point defense counsel Cynthia MacDonald objected and said the witness statement should be deemed inadmissible as hearsay.

“Evidence that is testimonial can not be admitted unless the witness is available,” she said. “There’s no opportunity to cross-examine.”

Judge Daniel Mumford said that was obvious due to Coughlin’s recent passing.

MacDonald went on to note Braswell was not present when police responded and Coughlin was not in immediate danger.

“There is reasonable doubt, and he should be found not guilty,” she said.

Mumford acknowledged the unusual nature of the proceedings.

“I’ve never had a case like this where the alleged victim is deceased,” he said. “It’s most unfortunate really.”

After taking a few moments to ponder the legal morass, Mumford dismissed the charges.

“How many times did we see victims of domestic violence come in and say, ‘I didn’t tell the truth?’” he said. “I’m not comfortable finding the defendant guilty based on an uncorroborated hearsay statement.”

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