Baltimore Judge Marries Accused Abuser to Victim During Trial to Avoid Testimony

Judge agreed to marriage so alleged victim wouldn't have to testify.

ByABC News via logo
March 17, 2010, 1:47 PM

March 17, 2010— -- A Baltimore County judge has been reassigned after pausing the trial of an accused batterer to marry him to his alleged victim so she could avoid testifying against him.

Judge Darrell Russell Jr., the Baltimore County District Court judge assigned to the non-jury trial, performed the wedding ceremony in his chambers for defendant Frederick Wood and his girlfriend. Prosecutors say they were powerless to stop it.

"It's very frustrating. We view very seriously the crime of domestic violence," Deputy State's Attorney Leo Ryan said. "We understand that very often the nature of this crime means the victims are reluctant to testify."

As a parting comment, according to an audio recording of the proceedings, Russell left the new groom with these sentiments:

"Mr. Wood, I found you not guilty, so I can't sentence you as a defendant in any crimes ... but earlier today, I sentenced you to life married to her."

A spokeswoman for the Maryland Judiciary Office of Communications and Public Affairs confirmed today that Russell has been indefinitely reassigned and will no longer be allowed to preside over domestic violence cases.

"Effective today Judge Russell has been reassigned to chambers meaning he will not be hearing any cases at all, and the work that he'll be doing in chambers is reviewing motions and civil cases," Angelita Plemmer said.

The reassignment was ordered by District Court Chief Judge Ben Clyburn.

Both Wood, 29, and his girlfriend, a 27-year-old mother of two young sons whose name is being withheld, were in court last week for Wood's trial on a misdemeanor second-degree assault charge stemming from a Nov. 29 incident at their home.

According to police reports, the woman told police that Wood picked a fight with her at 4 a.m., smacking her in the face and kicking her in the side. As the alleged assault continued, she told police, Wood banged her head into the wall and dragged her though the house before she was able to flee.