Articles Posted in Murder

In July I finally resolved a murder case that I have been working on for the better part of 3 years. I received a not guilty on the case in spite of the fact that my client gave a recorded “confession” to the crime.  I am convinced that in spite of his confession, he was indeed an innocent man – and 12 jurors agreed in just over 4 hours of deliberation that he was.  Here are the facts – as I often do I will leave out specific names and locations to protect the privacy of those involved:

In the early morning hours of one day in March of 2013 the police were called to the scene of a single car accident in Baltimore City. Once on the scene, they found an unresponsive adult male slumped over the steering wheel.  They removed him from the vehicle and quickly determined that he had suffered from a single gunshot to the back.  The paramedics worked on him at the scene but  were unable to revive him and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The police inventoried the contents of the vehicle and found $1200 in cash (mostly in $20 bills) a gold watch, a half consumed bottle of soda and a few other items. The vehicle in question was a 10 year old Mercedes Benz.  It was determined in the initial stages of the investigation that the victim was unemployed and had been for some time.  It was also determined that he had been involved in the distribution of narcotics.  In fact this information was confirmed by his girlfriend.  Finally, a bulletin was very recently circulated to the officers and detectives working this part of the city, that there was a significant uptick in gang related activity (in particular Crip activity) in the area.  I will let the reader draw your own conclusions about the likely circumstances of this shooting but it look fairly obvious to me that it was drug related.

The Maryland Assembly has recently passed the Justice Reinvestment Act which is generally aimed at significantly reduces Maryland’s prison population. Our partner, Judge Joe Murphy (ret.) played a key role in formulating much of this legislation. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 122-19 and the Senate 46-0. Gov. Hogan is expected to sign the bill into law this spring.

Many major policy changes are highlighted below in this text but include a unique opportunity for inmates serving mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses an unprecedented opportunity to return to court and ask for a sentence modification.

Some other highlights to the bill include:
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The charge against the officers of 2nd Degree Depraved Heart Murder is a real stretch in the Freddie Gray Case. Manslaughter is the most appropriate charge under these facts. Here is why:

Second Degree Depraved heart murder is the killing of another person while acting with an extreme disregard for human life. In order to convict, the state must prove (1) that the conduct of the defendant caused the death, (2) that the defendant’s conduct created a very high degree of risk to the life of Freddie Gray, and (3) the defendant, conscious of such risk, acted with extreme disregard of the life-ending consequences.


Now that all police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray have been charged by the Baltimore State’s Attorney, I will lay out what to expect in the next 30 days.

Charged by Criminal Information:

There are two ways to charge a felony in Maryland, one way is by Criminal Information and the other way is by Indictment. The Gray defendants have been charged by Criminal Information. Criminal Information means that the State’s Attorney believes their is probable cause the officers have committed one or more felonies. Under Maryland law, there must now be a judicial “rubber stamp” or independent finding of probable cause.

As of now, these defendants will automatically have a preliminary hearing scheduled within 30 days. At the preliminary hearing, a judge will listen to the evidence and make a determination if there is some link between the defendants and the felonies alleged. This is known as probable cause hearing. Most preliminary hearings involve a police officer simply taking the stand and reading the police report into the record . Defense counsel can ask limited questions as the questions relate to probable cause. In cases such as this, it is rare for a district court judge not to find probable cause that a felony has been committed. Upon the judicial finding of probable cause, the case is then forwarded to Circuit Court for trial.
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As an Aggressive Maryland Criminal Attorney for almost 20 years I have handled hundreds if not thousands of criminal cases in which my client is alleged to have made an incriminating statement or a confession to the police. For obvious reasons, these statements are devastating to the defense and under most circumstances all but ensure a conviction.

Typically the only available strategy in these situations is to file a motion to suppress the statement alleging some violation of the defendant’s Constitutional Rights in the taking of the statement. Unfortunately for criminal defendants, these statements are rarely suppressed by trial judges, particularly when they are given after the defendant is advised of his Miranda rights and the statement is recorded. But that is exactly what happened in this case. Here are the facts:
Continue reading › the most difficult cases that Maryland Criminal Attorneys find themselves involved in are These cases are always tragic but they become even more so when the person who is killed is a passenger and close friend or family member of the driver.

Most of these cases involve young people who are out together and are using alcohol and/or drugs. These cases also typical involve excessive speed or other dangerous driving. The driver is almost always a decent person without a record who never intended to hurt much less kill anyone. I concluded a particulary tragic case like this in Baltimore County Circuit Court this week. It was, in all honesty, among the most difficult and emotionally taxing cases of my career. Here are the facts:
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It has become apparent from recent Freedom of Information Act disclosures that George Hugely had sent threatening emails shortly before his former girlfriend, Yeardley Love, was found murdered. After the incident, Hugely’s lawyer tried to characterize Love’s death as an “accident.” Hugely, of course, is facing first degree murder charges.

One of the prerequisites of murder in the first degree is premeditation. We knew that Hugely forced himself into Love’s apartment by literally breaking down her door. Now it has been confirmed that he previously sent Love threatening emails. The fact that he left the murder scene with Love’s laptop can only show he was trying to cover his email tracks.

A conviction for murder in the first degree is looking more and more like a slam dunk for the prosecution as the case unfolds.

As a Baltimore Maryland Criminal Attorney I am often confronted with cases in which the Baltimore City Police (and occasionally police from other jurisdictions) take a simple misdemeanor case and charge it as a major felony. I have blogged about overcharging by the Baltimore City Police in the past and unfortunately it seems to be happening more and more frequently. Although these cases are typically reduced by State’s Attorney’s Office at the preliminary hearing, the fact that the police originally charged the case as a felony can result in major negative implications for the person charged.

First of all, the fact that the case was overcharged will almost invariably result in a much higher bail than would have otherwise been set had the case been properly charged as a misdemeanor. The increased bail amount will at best cost the defendant additional money to secure bail and at worst, cause the person to have to remain in jail until the case is set in for the preliminary hearing or even until the trial which could be months in the future. Also, the expungement statute precludes a person from having any count in a charging document expunged if the person is eventually convicted of any count. With criminal records so readily available these days on the Internet, having felony charges on one’s record, even if they are eventually dismissed, can cause serious problems for people in a variety of areas including employment, especially in today’s job market. I recently represented a person who was charged with attempted first degree murder for what was nothing more than a misdemeanor second degree assault. As in most cases, the overcharging of the case caused severe repercussions for the client. Here are the facts of the case:
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Based upon sources in Baltimore, it is confirmed that George Huguely brutally attacked a University of Virginia male lacrosse player in his sleep in 2009. Eerily similar to the alleged attack and murder of Yeardlay Love, Huguely bloodied the face and caused head trauma to his teammate. The attack, which occurred last year, apparently was a retaliatory act against the teammate for allegedly kissing Love. It is also reported that Huguely was intoxicated during this attack as well.

The prior incident was reported to the varsity lacrosse coach, but both players involved played in the next game. It is unclear if any discipline was imposed by the coach. As the events leading up to the tragic murder unfold, it is beginning to look like University of Virginia administration and/or officials knew or should have known that Huguely was a loose cannon. He previously had several run-ins with police, threatened to kill a Virginia female police officer, and beat a fellow student and teammate in his sleep in 2009. Recognizing that hindsight is 20-20, one still wonders whether the University of Virginia fell asleep at the wheel?

Yesterday I posted a blog critical of George Huguely’s defense counsel for coming out of the gate and describing this murder an “accident with a tragic outcome”. I suggested that such a statement, if not supported by the facts, would forever undermine the credibility of the defense. Newly disclosed developments have boldened my position.

Today it is being reported that Huguely has two (2) prior run-ins with the law in Florida dating back to 2007. First he was charged with possession of alcohol as a minor in Palm Beach, and then police were called to intervene in a “very heated” argument involving his father and cousin.

These incidents proceed a 2008 arrest and conviction in Lexington Virginia where he was Tasered by police while shouting “I’ll kill all you bitches” to a female officer.

A lawyer needs to be very carefull about what he says in the early stages of a high-profile murder case that has peeked a communities interet or rage. I was cognizent of this in my statements to the media after the bail review in the Nicholas Browning multiple homicide case. I am surprised the Huguely defense was not tempered as well. The Huguely defense team, by calling this an “accident” has done irreputable harm to the goals of the defense, but arguably not to the ultimte goal of justice.
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