07/26/06 — Assault suspect won't go to court

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Assault suspect won't go to court

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on July 26, 2006 1:50 PM

A man charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault on a sleeping woman last year left the Wayne County Courthouse a free man. Well, almost free.

"It was the weirdest case I ever had," said Assistant District Attorney Jan Kroboth, who has been a prosecutor for about 17 years.

Dennis Cleveland Young, 24, of Athens Drive, Dudley, had served 404 days in custody before his case was heard in Wayne County Superior Court.

"We had a problem with the identification," Mrs. Kroboth said. "We had only the ID of a small child. We didn't think that was enough."

Young was accused of barging into an apartment in the 900 block of Lincoln Drive in Goldsboro and bludgeoning the woman, Renatta Lane, with a hammer on Feb. 3, 2005. The only eyewitnesses were her 4- and 2-year-old children.

Ms. Lane was treated for her injuries, admitted and later released from Wayne Memorial Hospital.

What made the case more weird later was the discovery by police investigators and the District Attorney's Office that Young had a twin brother.

Dennis Young, however, was not arrested until more than five months later, on June 7, 2005, when he was picked up by the Goldsboro-Wayne County Drug Squad in the 1100 block of Courtyard Circle and charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana.

After a further investigation by police, Young was charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill while inflicting serious injury against Ms. Lane.

Unable to post a $203,000 secured bond, Young languished in the Wayne County Jail until his case was heard.

Young pleaded guilty to the marijuana charge. He was sentenced by Judge Russell J. Lanier Jr. of Duplin County to six to eight months in prison, but the term was suspended on condition that he serve 36 months of supervised probation and pay a $350 fine and court costs.

Young rejected probation and the fine and elected to serve his sentence. Because he had served 404 days in jail -- more than the sentence imposed -- he was credited with time served and, by law, released from custody.

The assault, police said, started when Young knocked on Ms. Lane's door, and the 2-year-old let him in.

Mrs. Kroboth dismissed the murder and assault charges with leave. She said Young was never placed in jeopardy, and "in the event more evidence is uncovered, we can recharge him and try him later."

The lead police investigator, Chad Calloway, said Tuesday that he understood the reasons behind the dismissal but was disappointed with the decision.

Young left no DNA evidence at the scene. Mrs. Kroboth said his DNA would not have mattered, because identical twins have the same DNA.

"That would have further complicated the case," she said.

Only Ms. Lane's DNA was recovered from the hammer.

"There were a lot of strange circumstances," Mrs. Kroboth said.