Ella Disharoon bows out of State’s Attorney’s race

In this 2014 file photo, Deputy State’s Attorney Ella Disharoon speaks with a Maryland State detective as police investigate a homicide at Harcum Farm in Mardela Springs.

Wicomico County State’s Attorney Ella Disharoon has decided not to run for election, choosing instead to spend her remaining 15 months in office, prosecuting and keeping the community safe.

She said she will determine her next career move at some point while continuing to serve until January 2019.

The election is in November 2018. So far, only former Assistant State’s Attorney Jamie Dykes has filed to hold the county’s top prosecutor post.

“I love being a prosecutor and I think that I am a pretty good one, but I know that I am not a politician,” Disharoon said.

“Campaigning takes a lot of time and effort. Being State’s Attorney takes a lot of time and effort. It is difficult to do both at the same time,” she told the Salisbury Independent during an interview in her office.

Dykes and Disharoon were colleagues for many years. While Dykes is known for an outwardly aggressive demeanor, Disharoon is the opposite. Friends and co-workers, however, maintain that — under her quiet surface — Disharoon is as tough as nails.

Disharoon was the top deputy to Matt Maciarello, who was appointed a Circuit Court judge last year. Despite her soft-spoken demeanor, Disharron is acknowledged as the organizational and professional driving force within the State’s Attorney’s Office.

“We have had an increase in violent crime in the last several months and after much consideration, I have decided not to run,” Disharoon said.

“I want to focus my efforts and attention on making sure that we vigorously prosecute each of these crimes and make sure that our office does what is needed to help make this community safer,” she said.

Her career, she said, has been fulfilling, a learning experience that allowed her to meet “thousands of wonderful people.”

A longtime Assistant State’s Attorney, Disharoon said she never aspired to the top position, but was appointed by a panel of judges following Maciarello’s departure.

Like Maciarello, she is known for achieving success with a local education — she is a graduate of Wor-Wic Community College, Salisbury University and University of Maryland School, where she earned her juris doctorate in 2002.

Disharoon moved to Wicomico County with her family when she was a child, after her father accepted a position as pastor of First Baptist Church of Delmar.

She and her husband, Bobby, have been married 28 years.

“We have three children we adore and four grandchildren we may love just a little more,” she said.

Disharoon entered the law field in 2002 as a clerk for Judge D. William Simpson in Circuit Court. Two years later, she began working as Assistant State’s Attorney.

In January 2011, Maciarello chose her as Deputy State’s Attorney and they worked together six years.

“I assisted the State’s Attorney in the management of this office, which included managing a $2.6 million budget, case assignment of thousands of cases a year, as well as oversight and mentoring of 17 attorneys and 18 administrative staff,” Disharoon said.

She also maintained a full caseload, prosecuting the most violent offenders. She was also frequently appointed as special counsel in neighboring counties to handle homicide cases.

Many infamous defendants she prosecuted received life sentences, or life without parole. They include Alan Stanford and John Donahue, convicted of murder; Dejesus Collins, convicted of attempted murder; William Hill, convicted of the murder of Whitney Bennett; Marcus Smiley, convicted of attempted murder; Corey Jamal Jones, convicted of attempted murder; Myles Lyons, convicted of first-degree murder; Anthony Waters, convicted of murder; and Demarr Jones, convicted of conspiracy to murder.

Disharoon, who in conversation is warm and friendly, shared memories of the late Sam Vincent, the Deputy State’s Attorney who was her mentor.

At age 52, Vincent was killed in an automobile accident at Sixty Foot Road near Pittsville in summer 2010. At the time of his death, he was preparing to challenge his boss, longtime State’s Attorney Davis Ruark, in that fall’s election.

“He was the best prosecutor I have ever known. He taught me how to be a successful and effective prosecutor,” Disharoon said. “I learned to be fair, but tough, and to treat everyone with respect that I would expect in return.”

Maciarello, she said, is “a wonderful person and a wonderful friend.”

“I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to work so closely with him in our efforts to protect this community. I have never worked with an individual with as much energy and drive and motivation as Matt.

“He was constantly planning and preparing and coming up with ideas to make this community a safer, better place to live. I think in his almost six years here he managed to become the best State’s Attorney this county has ever had,” she said.

She also praised her staff and Salisbury Police Department officers.

“I have been out with them many, many nights where they are working 24, 48, 72 hours straight without going home, without sleep, in order to apprehend violent criminals and get them off the street,” Disharoon said. “And then when it comes time to go to trial, they are just as committed in their preparation and assistance as they were during the investigative stage.”

“I imagine that I have learned just as much from them as they have learned from me and I believe that is one of the reasons that I have been a successful prosecutor,” she said.

“And now I will do my very best to serve the remainder of this term as I have served for the last 13 and one-half years. The citizens of this county can be assured that I’ll continue to fight for justice for the citizens of this county until my term ends,” she said.

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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