Death of Edgewood Intruder Ruled Homicide; No Charges to be Filed

The death of a man who entered an Edgewood home and was restrained by its occupants has been ruled a homicide by asphyxiation, but Harford County State’s Attorney Joe Cassilly said no charges will be filed in the case.

According to a report by the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner released this week, the cause of Joseph A. Breckenridge’s death was “positional asphyxiation,” or the closing of airways due to physical restraint or other causes, and the manner of death was ruled a homicide.

The medical determination of a homicide does not necessarily mean that a criminal act such as murder or manslaughter took place. Cassilly said Breckenridge’s actions prior to his death meant that the home’s occupants would not be charged with a crime.

According to police, Breckenridge, 53, entered a home on the 2000 block of Rockwell Street in Edgewood at approximately 4:40 p.m. Nov. 22. A woman home at the time confronted Breckenridge, who, according to Cassilly, became verbally abusive and caused her to flee to a neighbor’s home, where her husband was visiting at the time.

Cassilly said the woman’s husband and a neighbor returned to her home and attempted to push Breckenridge out of the residence. A struggle ensued, ending with Breckenridge pinned to the floor while the woman called police.

Harford County Sheriff’s Office deputies arriving on scene found Breckenridge alive but unconscious. He was transported to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 5:30 p.m.

“The deceased came into someone’s house, basically broke in, and made comments that frightened her to the point that she had to leave her home,” Cassilly said.

“Frankly, my position would have been, had he come in and made comments like he did, she could have pulled a gun and shot him, and I’d have been fine with that,” he said.

Several prescription drugs, none illegal, were found in Breckenridge’s system, Cassilly said. There was no evidence that he was armed.

Breckenridge was known to neighborhood residents for a variety of unwelcome advances, according to Harford County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Monica Worrell. She said the November incident was the third or fourth time Breckenridge had entered that particular residence, and the altercation began when he refused to leave and began damaging items inside the home.

Cassilly said he did not intend to file criminal charges in the case.

“I’m sure the homeowner is struggling with issues about this,” Cassilly said. “I don’t see any need to add to them with any kind of charge.”


  1. Ian Riden says

    Good ruling from Mr. Cassilly I am glad he affirms the right to self defense including judicious use of lethal force.

  2. Brujo Blanco says

    Maryland needs a Castle law which would provide specific information as to what self defense is.

  3. OMG says

    So let me get this straight? The homeowner had a way to get out of the situation and returned to confront the intruder? So what happens if I have a way out of a intruder, but return….fight….call the cops and then HCSO arrives? I commend the homeowner for making a stand, but am puzzled that there was a way out of the deadly situation.

  4. MacG says

    Something is missing from this story, the fellow that died had a “history of unwelcome advances in the neighborhood,” this was the “third or fourth time he entered this house uninvited.” Why was this guy on the street, there is something to this story the Sheriff’s Department is not telling the Dagger reporter.

    • George says

      If you want the police reports and all public records relating to the case then go file a request for them. An article on The Dagger isn’t going to contain everything that was discovered during the course of the investigation.

      As far as why he was still on street…assuming prior incidents had actually been reported and there was enough evidence to file charges and find him guilty in court then you should be asking the court system why he was still on the street, not the HCSO. If the prior incidents weren’t reported and the HCSO didn’t learn of them until this happened then you certainly can’t blame the HCSO for it.

      You have a history of slamming the HCSO for racial profiling, filing bogus charges against “innocent” people, etc and then you want to insinuate that the HCSO somehow knew this guy was dangerous and should’ve locked him up? You can’t have it both ways.

  5. Sheeple says

    Frankly, my position would have been, had he come in and made comments like he did, she could have pulled a gun and shot him, and I’d have been fine with that,” he said. Damn right!

  6. CptnObvious says

    If he had entered the same home 3 or 4 times before then they had a reasonable idea that he would leave again. Granted he was disturbed and the homocide was unintentional but maybe just a beat down would have sufficed.

    • CptnObvious says

      I should add,
      His demise does not bother me much as he was still an intruder but the repetitive nature of the happenings raises some thoughts.