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Charge dropped against soldier

Ashley Ramos, 5, and grandmother Gaylene Ramos wait outside the courthouse Sept. 11, 2007, in support of Army Pfc. Matthew Nicholson. ( Bart Ah You / The Modesto Bee )
Ashley Ramos, 5, and grandmother Gaylene Ramos wait outside the courthouse Sept. 11, 2007, in support of Army Pfc. Matthew Nicholson. ( Bart Ah You / The Modesto Bee ) Modesto Bee

A felony assault charge was dropped today against Army Pfc. Matthew Nicholson, who had been arrested after intervening to help two women (see video).

Nicholson, 22, was accused of beating a man he thought was assaulting two women.

After reviewing Nicholson’s case, Chief Deputy District Attorney John Goold said going forward would benefit no one.

Merely dropping the case may not be enough. His lawyer, Martha Carlton-Magaña, said she will look into having the record of Nicholson’s arrest expunged.

Nicholson said he will return to Fort Campbell in October.

He was arrested Sept. 1 after he responded to a frightened boy's plea for help. While walking with his sisters and girlfriend, Nicholson came upon a boy who said his father was hurting his mother and grandmother. The boy didn't know his address, Nicholson said, so the group escorted him home so they would know where to send police when they called.

The boy, who told the group he was afraid his father would hit him if he returned home, stayed with one of Nicholson's sisters while Nicholson, another sister and his girlfriend approached the house. Nicholson said he heard and saw a commotion in the house and the door was wide open, so he walked in to help the women.

Martin Lemas asked why Nicholson, whom he'd never seen before, was in his house. Before leaving, Nicholson said: "You like to hit women?" according to Nicholson's sister Shelby Wolf, 16.

The situation quickly escalated, ending with Nicholson under arrest on a felony charge of assault and Lemas, 35, seeking medical attention for several bruises on his face, a punctured lip and what he thought was a broken jaw.

By the time officer Joseph Carrillo arrived, Lemas' mother had left. Carrillo saw no evidence of assault to Lemas' wife. The officer spoke with Lemas' mother on the phone. She told police she and her son had been drinking and they all got into a row.

When witnesses related the story to police, it seemed Nicholson had knocked Lemas to the ground and continued to punch Lemas, who wasn't in a position to defend himself, Carrillo said.

Neither woman pressed charges, so Lemas was not arrested.

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