A judge on Friday threw out all charges against a man accused in the deadly hit-and-run of 14-year-old Gavin Knupp outside Ocean City, ruling that prosecutors made a mistake and filed the case in the wrong court.

Circuit Judge Brett W. Wilson said he had “no idea” why the state filed the case against against Tyler Mailloux in Worcester County Circuit Court instead of the District Court of Maryland.

“Mr. Mailloux was charged in the wrong court,” Wilson said. “There was a charging mistake.”

But the decision does not mark the end of the legal saga, which has transfixed and galvanized those in the tight-knit communities of Ocean City and Ocean Pines.

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In an email, State’s Attorney Kristin Heiser said, “The State is filing an immediate appeal and we will await the decision of the appellate court.”

Mailloux, 23, of Berlin, had been charged with 17 counts in the hit-and-run, which happened just before 10:45 p.m. on Grays Corner Road near Riddle Lane on July 11, 2022.

Prosecutors allege that Mailloux left the scene, returned home and kept the 2011 Mercedes-Benz C300 that he’d been driving in the garage until law enforcement seized the vehicle. He lived there with his mother, Kearston Frey, and her boyfriend, Ralph DeAngelus, who used to be a partner at a restaurant group in Ocean City.

Gavin had asked his older sister, Summer, to pull over so he could take a video of a taxidermy buck’s head on the side of the road. He was fatally struck while walking back to her car.

Shops and restaurants put up signs demanding “Justice for Gavin” or reading “Do it for Gavin.” Supporters called on social media for law enforcement to file charges, sponsored billboards and distributed bracelets and stickers to raise awareness about the case.

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A Facebook group called Do It For Gavin - Justice for Gavin has more than 23,000 members.

Family photo of Gavin Knupp
Gavin Knupp is pictured in this family photo. (Courtesy photo)

Mailloux’s attorney, George Psoras Jr., left the Worcester County Courthouse without speaking to reporters.

Psoras filed a dozen pretrial motions, including one to dismiss the charges on the grounds that the District Court of Maryland had original exclusive jurisdiction. That’s the plain, simple language of the law, he said, adding that it’s not ambiguous or subject to multiple interpretations.

“There’s no other definitions of these two words,” Psoras said. “I challenge the state to come up with something.”

But Assistant State’s Attorney Pamela Correa contended that Psoras’ interpretation of the law was incorrect and stated the argument “fails at its very inception.”

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Next, Psoras argued at length that the trial should be moved out of Worcester County. He read from the more than 200 pages of exhibits that he filed in support of the request and stated that his client was entitled to a fair trial with an impartial jury — “not a mob.”

Later, Wilson called for a 10-minute recess. When he returned to the bench, he granted the motion to dismiss.

In an email, Nancy Forster, an attorney in Towson whose practice area includes appellate legal issues, said if she correctly interpreted the defense’s argument, she found it to be weak.

The law, she said, “gives the district court concurrent jurisdiction with the circuit court to try charges brought in this case.”

Forster said the intent of the legislature has always been for the jurisdiction of the District Court of Maryland to be limited.

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The Knupp family released a statement through their attorney, Neil Dubovsky.

“It is our understanding that the case was dismissed on procedural grounds and that decision is being appealed,” the statement read. “We have no further comment and direct any further questions to the State’s Attorney’s office.”

dylan.segelbaum@thebaltimorebanner.com

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