EASTON — Talbot County prosecutors dismissed theft charges against Charles Smullen, who was accused of using bad checks to buy tools at Easton Hardware and separately faces a murder charge connected to his elderly neighbor’s death.
Smullen was alleged to have used bad checks on several occasions over the past year to purchase hundreds of dollars in equipment from Easton Hardware. He has a history of theft and selling stolen items, and according to court records, has in the past been convicted of and jailed for theft in Dorchester County.
Deputy State’s Attorney Ellen Grunden said in a statement that she agreed to drop the theft charges after discussing the case with Easton Hardware.
Grunden said “given Smullen’s pending homicide charges and the severity of the penalties he faces in that case” she determined “there was nothing to be gained either for the merchant or the broader interests of justice by litigating his bad check charges.”
While Smullen, 46, will no longer face prosecution for misdemeanor theft in the Easton Hardware case, he still has nine criminal charges pending against him in Talbot County, seven of which are felonies. The charges stem from his alleged involvement in the death of his 91-year-old neighbor Richard Brunkhorst.
Brunkhorst died on Feb. 9 in his home on Tred Avon Avenue in Easton. Easton Police said the state medical examiner’s office ruled his death a homicide by blunt force, though police have not confirmed what might have been used to inflict fatal injuries on Brunkhorst.
Officers who had been sent to Brunkhorst’s home for a welfare check solicited by his daughter said when they arrived they found Brunkhorst dead, lying on the floor inside his home in a pool of blood. Police said he appeared to have suffered “obvious facial and head trauma” but there were no stab wounds on his body.
Smullen stands accused of killing Brunkhorst and is alleged to have stolen Brunkhorst’s car on the night of his murder based on his having been found by police in Brunkhorst’s car in Anne Arundel County hours after his death.
Smullen allegedly had several antique long rifles and a bayonet that also belonged to Brunkhorst in the back seat of the car, which police said he tried to sell in Easton on the night of Feb. 9. He reportedly managed to sell two rifles.
The murder case against Smullen in connection with Brunkhorst’s death was upheld in March and forwarded to Talbot County Circuit Court.
Smullen is charged with first-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, first-degree burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, and other related charges. A status conference in the case is scheduled for June 4.
In the theft case, Easton Police officers describe Smullen in charging documents obtained by The Star Democrat as someone who has a “history of check fraud.”
Smullen was accused of using bad checks to buy cumulatively about $800 worth of tools from Easton Hardware in July 2020 and January 2021. He also has been in and out of jail in Dorchester County for theft convictions between 1993 and 2020, according to court records. None appears to have involved violence.