Rape, assault and other charges have been dropped against two Hartly-area men.

Criminal charges against two Hartly-area men have been dropped after the attorney general's office decided the state did not have enough proof against the men to proceed with a trial.

The men, Robert D. Brown, 24, and John F. Edwards, 24, were accused of a March 6 home invasion in which two men were assaulted at a residence located on Brittney Lane, near Hartly. One of the victims, a 54-year-old man, has since died.

"While there was enough evidence to arrest, there is not sufficient evidence at this time to proceed with the prosecution," said Jason Miller, spokesman for the attorney general's office.

The charges were dropped March 22, Miller said.

But that does not mean Brown and Edwards are in the clear, Miller added, saying that because the charges were dropped "without prejudice" they could be reinstated if additional evidence becomes available.

According to information released by the Delaware State Police, the incident began when two men drove up to the property at 3:45 a.m. One of them went into the main home, where he confronted a 29-year-old man with a handgun. The suspect took the man's wallet, ordered him outside and then knocked him to the ground.

Meantime, the second man went into a motor home parked in the driveway, where he then was joined by the first man. A fight then broke out with the older man, after which the suspects both fled. Police said the victim was sexually assaulted with an unknown object; he later was admitted to the Christiana Hospital in critical condition.

Brown was taken into custody two days later; Edwards was arrested March 13. Both men were charged with first-degree robbery, rape and other charges, then jailed in lieu of bond.

Police now are looking to identify those responsible for the assaults and for the 54-year-old man's death.

"The investigation remains open and is being conducted by the Delaware State Police homicide unit," Miller said.