A Frederick man strangled one relative and threatened to kill another when they refused to lend him a car or money to buy drugs Friday, according to court documents.
Joseph Michael McLaughlin, 53, had just been released from the hospital Friday and was staying with relatives when one of the relatives called Frederick police for a disturbance at the residence at 4:05 p.m., according to the documents. Officers arrived to find the female relative who had called 911 outside the apartment saying that McLaughlin strangled one relative and threatened to kill the other in a fit of rage brought on when they both refused to lend McLaughlin a car or money.
McLaughlin immediately denied any wrongdoing when police entered the apartment to find him sitting with the relative who had noticeable red markings around her neck indicative of strangulation, the documents state.
The relative also told officers that McLaughlin attacked and strangled her after she and the other relative refused to lend him a car and money. She specifically refused to lend him money, telling him she needed it to pay rent, the documents state. While the relative was being strangled, the other picked up the phone to call 911, only for McLaughlin to chase them out of the apartment, according to the documents.
“You’d better hang up that phone or I’m gonna kill you,” McLaughlin told the fleeing relative, according to the documents. A third relative told police they heard McLaughlin loudly threaten to burn down the apartment with a cigarette, the documents state.
McLaughlin said he needed the vehicle and money to go buy food, but no one believed him because he asked the female relative who picked him up from the hospital to drive him to buy heroin, according to the documents.
When officers told McLaughlin he was under arrest for threatening to commit arson, reckless endangerment and first- and second-degree assault, McLaughlin stiffened his arms and attempted to resist being handcuffed until he was eventually subdued, adding a fifth offense — resisting arrest — to his list of charges, court records indicate.
In spite of his alleged crimes, McLaughlin had support during a bail review hearing before Frederick County District Court Judge Earl W. Bartgis, Jr. on Monday. A woman who identified herself as the relative who initially called 911 on McLaughlin sat in the front row to speak in his favor, telling Bartgis the family just wanted to see McLaughlin get the help he needs.
“He was good for a long time ... he was clean, but then he relapsed,” the woman told Bartgis.
Assistant Public Defender Marjorie Castillo also argued in McLaughlin’s favor, asking Bartgis to consider setting a condition by which McLaughlin could be released from the detention center. In spite of what prosecutors called McLaughlin’s “lengthy” criminal history and multiple failures to appear in court, Castillo called McLaughlin’s actions on Friday out of character, insisting that he is “not a violent person.”
Bartgis did seem sympathetic with the statements of McLaughlin’s defense and relative, but the judge was ultimately not swayed to allow for McLaughlin’s release on Monday without more assurances.
“Even though you say it’s an isolated incident, it’s still a very serious incident,” Bartgis said as he ordered McLaughlin to remain in the Frederick County Adult Detention Center without bail pending future court hearings.