A Frederick mayoral candidate is facing questions about his past and a pending criminal case ahead of the city's November election.
Republican nominee for mayor Steven L. Hammrick — whose legal name is Steven Hamrick Jr. (with one "m") — faces a second-degree assault charge from an incident in July in which police claim he pointed a gun at a group of people during a confrontation on July 31.
A man who lived in Hamrick's apartment complex told police that he and his fiancée were having an engagement party when Hamrick came downstairs and started yelling at the group, at which point they moved into their apartment, according to charging documents.
About 15 minutes later, the man said he saw Hamrick outside with a rifle pointing toward his patio door. Hamrick said he's confident the case will be dismissed.
Hamrick was charged with second-degree assault, although a reckless endangerment charge requested by police was not granted.
During a preliminary search of Hamrick's apartment, police recovered a shotgun, a Smith & Wesson rifle, a Ruger .22 pistol and seven magazines of various types of ammunition in plain sight. Upon returning with a search warrant, they found a .45 pistol and several boxes of ammunition, according to court documents.
Online court records did not list an attorney in the case as of Wednesday.
In an interview Monday, candidate "Hammrick" said he was confident the case would be dismissed when it went to court.
“I haven't had my time in court to prove my innocence,” he said.
A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for Oct. 7 in Frederick County District Court.
"Hammrick" won the Republican primary in the city's Sept. 14 election, capturing 56 percent of the vote in the two-person race. He will face Democratic incumbent Michael O'Connor in the Nov. 2 general election.
When he filed his candidacy for mayor in April, "Hammrick" filed an Affidavit of Alternate Name so his name on the ballot and the city's election website would appear differently from his legal name of Steven Hamrick Jr.
"Hammrick" said he requested the change because he no longer associates with his family. A campaign website and a personal Facebook page also use the alternate "Hammrick" spelling.
The city's charter specifies that a candidate “may file a certificate of candidacy in a name different than that specified [in their candidate filing] if the candidate files an affidavit, under penalties of perjury, attesting that the candidate is generally known by that other name in press accounts concerning the candidate, if any, or, if press accounts do not exist, the candidate's everyday encounters with members of the community.”
Along with the July incident, a search of criminal records under "Hammrick's" legal name (Hamrick) revealed a conviction in a 2016 domestic violence case in which, according to charging documents, he assaulted and choked his then-girlfriend during an argument at their apartment.
According to the documents filed by a Frederick Police Department officer who responded to the call in April 2016, the woman told the officer that Hamrick choked her and punched her in the face, arms and body and shoved her against a door, causing her to lose consciousness.
He choked her again when she tried to leave the apartment, lifting her off the ground and causing her to lose consciousness again, the documents state.
Hamrick entered an Alford plea to a charge of second-degree assault in June 2016 and was sentenced to 18 months with all but 27 days of time already served suspended, according to the Frederick County State's Attorney's Office. He was put on two years of supervised probation and required to complete anger management classes and to have no further contact with the victim in the case.
An Alford plea is one in which a defendant “accepts all the ramifications of a guilty verdict (i.e. punishment) without first attesting to having committed the crime,” according to the Legal Information Institute at the Cornell University Law School.
"Hammrick" said Monday that as the 2016 case went to court, the woman told authorities she'd been drinking on the night of the incident and that the situation didn't happen exactly as it was described by police.
He said he's dealt with the fallout of the 2016 case in his career and other circumstances, and he had no expectation when the case would remain secret during his run for mayor.
“I knew that this phone call was only a matter of time,” he told The News-Post.