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Maryland Court of Special Appeals Vacates First Degree Murder Conviction

Today, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals vacated a murder conviction because defendant’s right to counsel violated.

Facts:

The victim was stabbed in Hagerstown Maryland. Based on a review of images captured by security cameras, Adams was a suspect. Adams fled the scene but was picked up on a parole violation in Baltimore. He was brought back to Hagerstown for questioning. He was advised of his rights per Miranda, executed a waiver and made inculpatory statements. Adams was then charged with first degree murder and counsel entered his appearance. Months later, the prosecutor asked the detective to serve on Adams the notice seeking life without parole. The detective went to the detention center. Criminal defense counsel was not present. After seeing the notice, Adams said “why is the state going after me so hard?” The detective said “because you stabbed a guy 32 times.” Adams responded that he only stabbed the guy seven times and then went into detail about where he stabbed him. Defense counsel moved to suppress the statements. The trial court denied his motion.

Ruling:

The Court of Appeals, citing Edwards v. Arizona and other cases, noted that there were no Miranda warnings given at the second meeting and therefore there was no intentional knowing and intelligent waiver of his right to have counsel of record present. The Court held that, under the totality of the circumstances, any reasonable police officer would have reasonably anticipated Adams would respond to the detective’s accusation and that regardless if the detective acted in good faith, this encounter was the functional equivalent of interrogation.

At Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin and White, we handle dozens of criminal appeals each year. For more information on Maryland criminal appeals, please contact us for a complimentary consultation.

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