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Audio sheds light on peace order hearing

Glen Burnie man charged with murder claimed victim filmed him with secret camera

James Allan Verombeck is accused of killing Tyrique Hudson. (Anne Arundel County Police Department)

James Allan Verombeck is accused of killing Tyrique Hudson. (Anne Arundel County Police Department)

At a hearing in February, Tyrique Hudson told a judge that he felt threatened by his downstairs neighbor and sought a court order to provide protection.

Judge Devy Patterson Russell, a Baltimore judge sitting in Anne Arundel County District Court that day by special assignment, has come under fire for denying Hudson’s peace order request after Hudson was murdered less than two months later — allegedly by the man from whom he sought to be protected, James Allan Verombeck.

Hudson, 22, died April 15 at his apartment complex after his downstairs neighbor, Verombeck, 53, allegedly shot him. Verombeck was arrested and charged with first- and second-degree murder and related offenses after a 10-hour standoff with police. He is being held without bail.

Hudson petitioned for a peace order against Verombeck on Feb. 16 after he said Verombeck harassed, stalked and threatened him. After a court commissioner issued an interim peace order, Judge Russell presided over a hearing for a temporary peace order on Feb. 19 in Anne Arundel County District Court. She denied the petition.

Russell has been sitting in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties while the Court of Appeals decides whether to discipline her for judicial misconduct.

In an audio recording of the hearing obtained from the court by The Daily Record, Hudson described his only interaction with Verombeck in the seven months they had lived in the same apartment building.

Hudson said he was taking out his trash on Feb. 16 when he encountered Verombeck, who lived directly beneath him, in the hall and Verombeck told him: “You knew this day was coming” and “You knew what you did.” Hudson also said Verombeck made a “death gesture,” possibly drawing his finger across his throat. Hudson said he called 911 because he felt threatened.

“I just want to be able to just work and go into my apartment without being threatened by someone, so that’s why I’m here,” he told Judge Russell.

Russell asked for details of the alleged harassment and stalking and explained that they were usually a course of conduct, not a single event. A temporary peace order can be granted only if the petitioner shows he has reasonable grounds to believe a prohibited act will happen again.

Verombeck denied threatening Hudson and proceeded to tell Russell that Hudson had been videotaping him in his apartment with a hidden camera. Verombeck said that he was in court because he planned to seek criminal charges against Hudson.

“I didn’t do anything,” Verombeck said. “I never raised my voice, I never cussed, I never threatened him, I never stalked him.”

Hudson denied recording Verombeck.

Laure Ruth, legal director for the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, said Tuesday that it was unusual for the respondent to be present at a temporary peace order hearing, as Verombeck was.

Ruth, who reviewed a transcript of the hearing, said Verombeck was allowed to “virtually dominate” the proceedings with his allegations and said that, in hindsight, the way the hearing was conducted was “concerning.”

“I come away with more questions than answers and I do not think that (Russell) necessarily gave her full attention to the petitioner’s side of the story,” Ruth said.

Ruth noted the hearing was coming under scrutiny only now that Verombeck is accused of killing Hudson.

Peace order standards

During the hearing, Russell asked what caused the “friction” with Verombeck. Hudson expressed confusion.

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out, because, like I stated earlier, this is a man that I’ve never met before,” Hudson told the judge. “(H)onestly, I’ve been threatened and have been in fear of going inside and outside my apartment for the last couple of days.”

When asked why he believed Hudson was watching him, Verombeck said he heard Hudson walking above him at certain times while Verombeck was watching a movie — and that Hudson would walk away when he stopped the film and would return when Verombeck hit play.

“But you’ve never seen, with your own eyes, this video camera?” Russell asked.

“No,” Verombeck said.

Hudson denied recording Verombeck and said he walked around his apartment a lot.

Judge Russell said Verombeck’s belief that he was being recorded explained why he was upset at Hudson.

But Ruth said Verombeck’s allegations seemed incredible and could have raised concerns about his mental health.

“Something doesn’t seem right, which of course, in my world, adds credence to the petitioner’s fear and concern and instead (Russell) just sort of said, ‘Well, he’s not doing that, so there’s no problem there,'” she said.

Russell determined Hudson had not met his burden of proof of reasonable grounds to establish that a prohibited act occurred and would likely occur in the future.

Ruth said Russell appeared to provide more information to Verombeck than to Hudson.

“A self-represented litigant who’s never done this before, who doesn’t know the law, who doesn’t know what the court is looking for in a procedure that is designed to be self-represented, the court really bears some responsibility for eliciting the information that it needs and lives are at stake,” Ruth said.

There is no record of Hudson seeking any further relief from the court.

 


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