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Charges against twin brothers in downtown Hagerstown stabbing upgraded to murder

By Julie E. Greene, The Herald-Mail,


Charges against two homeless twin brothers in a November stabbing in downtown Hagerstown have been upgraded to murder after the victim died almost three weeks later, according to Hagerstown Police.

One of the brothers, Joshua Lee Kohutiak, remained at large Monday, according to Lt. Rebecca Fetchu, spokesperson for Hagerstown Police.

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Police found Octovial Taft with multiple puncture wounds to his chest, back and upper arm/armpit area shortly before 6 p.m. on Nov. 26 when officers responded to the 100 block of East Antietam Street for a reported stabbing, Washington County District Court records state.

Taft was taken by ambulance to Meritus Medical Center near Hagerstown and underwent surgery for his wounds, Fetchu wrote in an email last week.

He was released at a later, but unknown date, Fetchu wrote. Taft returned to Meritus on Dec. 15 and was transferred to University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore and underwent another surgery, she wrote.

Taft died during that Dec. 16 procedure, Fetchu wrote. The medical examiner "attributed his death to complications from the initial stabbing," she wrote.

Jacob Leon Kohutiak, 21, and his brother, Joshua, were initially charged with attempted murder.

A grand jury indicted Jacob Kohutiak on Dec. 28, upgrading his charges to include first- and second-degree murder, according to court records. He remained held without bail Monday in the Washington County Detention Center.

Joshua Kohutiak's charges also were upgraded to murder, Fetchu wrote. Joshua's court documents were unavailable Monday because he has not been served with his arrest warrant.

Victim had run-in with brothers near Washington County Free Library

A witness who had been with Taft in front of the Washington County Free Library told police she saw Taft arguing with two males around 4 p.m. on Nov. 26 in front of the library at East Antietam and South Potomac streets, court records state.

The witness told police she wasn't sure what the argument was about, but she was able to separate Taft from the other two men and asked Taft to walk away, court records state.

The woman walked away herself and told police the two males followed and confronted her down the street when she was alone, spitting in her face and then running off, court records state.

The female said she met up with Taft again and told him about the males spitting on her, court records state. The two spent the next hour or more hanging out near a wellness and recovery program office about a block and a half down East Antietam Street from the library. She told police they often hung out in that area.

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Taft saw the two males from the earlier argument and told the female he was going to confront them about spitting on her, court records state.

Taft went up the street, where the witness could not see him, court records state. After a short period, she went to where she last saw him and found Taft had been stabbed.

Another witness, a male, told police he saw two males and Taft in a confrontation, and it appeared the two males were "just getting off of Taft and Taft was trying to back away from them," court records state. One of the males got on a bicycle and the other on a scooter as they left quickly, the male witness told police.

Police checked city and private surveillance cameras and saw a physical confrontation between the three men when Taft tries to run out in the street but the other two males hold on to him so he can't get away, court records state. Both males "are actively punching and swinging at Taft," striking him in the head, chest and back multiple times.

Police wrote it was unclear in the video if one or both males had a knife or cutting instrument in hand, but both were seen swinging and striking at Taft in a motion consistent with stabbing, court records state.

The two males pulled Taft to the ground and continued striking him before getting away on the scooter and bike.

One of the cameras captured clear pictures of the men's faces. Library staff were able to identify the two attackers as twin brothers who visited the library almost daily, court records state. Library security talked to the brothers after the initial confrontation in front of the library and staff recommended they file a police report, but the brothers allegedly advised they would "take care of it themselves," according to court records.

Library security identified the brothers as Jacob and Joshua Kohutiak and that they were believed to be homeless, court records state.

Hagerstown Police checked with staff from a local homeless shelter to confirm males in the photos as the Kohutiak brothers.

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 3:19 p.m. on March 7, 2023, to correct the date of the stabbing.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: Charges against twin brothers in downtown Hagerstown stabbing upgraded to murder

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