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.”