March 28, 2013

Former Prince George’s County Police Officer Seeking New Trial

As reported by the Associated Press and ABC 7, a former Prince George’s County policeman and homeland security officer who was recently convicted of first-degree assault and involuntary manslaughter is asking for a new trial and seeking a reduction in the original sentence. In the January, 2007, the former policeman and homeland security officer shot a furniture delivery man and wounded a second delivery man.

The convicted former police officer who is currently serving a 45-year sentence says that the men attacked him first. He also claims that mistakes were made by his lawyers in defending him and that evidence failed to be disclosed by prosecutors in the case. He was granted a post-conviction hearing, which is now underway in Prince George’s County. According to the first witness called, a paramedic who had examined the shooter upon responding to the shooting, the man had swelling of the lips and under the eyes indicating that he had been hit more than one time.

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July 12, 2012

Understanding the Definitions and Penalties of Maryland Homicide Laws

MD Murder PenaltiesThe term “homicide” generally describes any unlawful killing of one human being by another. Maryland, like other states, separates homicides into different categories by type, with different penalties depending on the particular circumstances of the incident.

The most severe penalties are reserved for those convicted of first-degree murder. Section 2-201 of the Maryland Criminal Code defines first-degree murder as “a deliberate, premeditated, and willful killing” that may be committed in multiple ways, such as by lying in wait, by poisoning, or during the commission of one of a list of other felonies. A conviction of first-degree murder carries a penalty of death or life imprisonment.

In Section 2-204, Maryland’s criminal law defines second-degree murder as “a murder that is not in the first degree under section 2-201,” and the law imposes a penalty of up to 30 years in prison for those convicted of second-degree murder.

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March 27, 2012

Maryland SWAT Team Makes Arrest in North Ave. Murder Case

MD Homicide Suspect ArrestA report from The Baltimore Sun shows that members of the Baltimore SWAT team made an arrest in a fatal shooting that occurred on the evening of March 20. Following a report of the shooting, police officers were dispatched to the 1800 block of Ashburton St. at North Ave. where they found the 23-year-old victim face down with multiple gunshot wounds to the arm and body. Members of the SWAT team then began to canvas the area to search for the perpetrator when they saw the now-arrested suspect acting nervously and concealing something in his waistband. According to court documents, the murder suspect discarded the handgun after officers approached him and began to run.

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May 9, 2011

Despite Crime Rates Dropping, Baltimore Remains in the “Top 5”

Baltimore is still one of the top five cities in the U.S. when it comes to murder rates, according to The Baltimore Sun. The information comes from a report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

In general, the rate of violent crimes dropped nationwide last year, and Baltimore was no exception. Overall, violent crimes went down 5.5 percent in 2010 as compared with 2009, while crimes involving property were down 2.8 percent. Baltimore also saw lowered crime rates: violent crimes in the city dropped 3.6 percent, and property crimes went down 3 percent. However, despite the decrease in crime, Baltimore still maintained the fifth-highest murder rate in the country last year behind New Orleans, Flint (Michigan), St. Louis, and Detroit.

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January 4, 2011

Two Men Arrested for Woman's Murder in Salisbury

Two men from Salisbury have been arrested for the murder of a 63-year-old woman, according to WGMD.com.

The woman lived with her brother; however, she was home alone on the evening of December 17, when police allege two men broke into her home to burglarize the house. The victim purportedly came out of her bedroom, and was shot to death. The victim was found by her brother shortly after one a.m.

The suspects, both age 21, have been charged with first and second degree murder. One of the men was also charged with armed robbery and other crimes. Both suspects are being held at the Wicomico County Detention Center on no bond.

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January 21, 2010

Forensic Expert Indicates a Lack of DNA Evidence in Homicide Trial

Testimony from a forensic DNA expert was heard during the trial of a 39-year-old man charged with the murder of a 27-year-old Salisbury man. Two other suspects were previously indicted by a grand jury for the killing after paramedics found the victim unconscious with his ankles and wrists duct taped inside the home of one of the accused. According to prosecutors, drugs and money were the motive behind the killing. A fourth individual who was allegedly involved, was found dead earlier this year from an apparent suicide.

During the December trial, the defense’s forensic DNA expert testified that there was no DNA evidence linking the defendant to the evidence submitted by police for testing. Maryland State Police submitted 21 pieces of evidence; however, swab samples taken from the items, and not the items themselves, were used for testing purposes.

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January 8, 2010

Two Men Arrested for First Degree Murder and Assault in 2007 Crime

Two years ago in October, a 21-year-old man was found dead just inside Leakin Park in Baltimore. According to police reports, a motorist who had been driving through the park discovered the body of the man early on the morning of October 10, 2007. The victim's head was covered with duct tape and blood was discovered on his face and head. It was determined that the victim had been shot twice in the head after being abducted the day before. It is unclear what provoked the attack, considering that the victim, who was originally from Ghana, had no criminal record in Maryland.

Two men ages 23 and 30 were arrested on Thursday December 17, 2009 and charged with first degree murder, assault and various handgun charges in the Baltimore murder. They have been ordered to be held without bond. Both suspects charged in this case had prior criminal convictions including burglary and handgun charges. One of the suspects was also found not guilty in 2004 of attempted first-degree murder.

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September 29, 2009

Vehicular Homicide and the Consequences of a Hit-and-Run Accident

A recent article about a man who may be charged for fleeing the scene of an auto accident that killed a pedestrian in Anne Arundel County raises many questions regarding the legal penalties surrounding vehicular manslaughter, especially when such an act takes place in a hit-and-run situation and/or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In this particular incident, police have said that prescription drug use may have been a contributing factor that led the 26-year old driver to lose control of his Dodge Caravan, strike a woman that had been standing on a nearby sidewalk and drive away from the scene. The suspected vehicle driven during the accident has been found by law enforcement officers.

Although the article didn’t specify the exact charges being brought against the driver in this incident, it can be speculated, based on the circumstances surrounding this case, that the driver may be charged with vehicular manslaughter and operating a vehicle in a grossly negligent manner. The penalties for these charges can include significant prison time and hefty fines. If it is determined that the driver was operating his vehicle under the influence of drugs, additional prison time could be added. These charges could all be on top of other criminal charges or traffic violations associated with a particular incident, such as driving with a suspended license. Being suspected of leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death may also contribute to an increase in punishment.

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September 22, 2009

Mother Pleads Guilty to First-Degree Murder: Judge Decides She Was Legally Sane

After a two-day trial which focused entirely on the testimonies of two state psychiatrists regarding the mental state of a Kent Island woman accused of killing her 3-year-old daughter, a Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court judge ruled that she was legally sane when she murdered her youngest child. The judge considered the statements from the hearing, which circulated around the doctors’ opinions and how they reached those conclusions regarding the defendant’s mental health. Now the woman may be sentenced to life in prison when she is sentenced on September 28, 2009.

The accused pleaded guilty to first-degree murder but claimed to not be “criminally responsible” for the killing due to being so depressed that she could not control her actions or thoughts. Stating that she knew it was wrong to poison her daughter, it was also reported that the woman suffered from a major depressive disorder and previously attempted to kill herself.

In this particular homicide case in Maryland, the jury did not decide if the Kent Island woman suffered from insanity; instead, it was the judge. During the course of the first day of trial, the psychiatrists testified that the accused revealed her plans to kill her daughter to a nurse practitioner at the family doctor’s office. The psychiatrists also said that the defendant was able to control herself in almost every other part of her life.

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September 15, 2009

Howard County Homicide at Assisted Living Community is First of 2009

According to a recent article, an 87-year-old man from Columbia has been charged with the first homicide in Howard County this year. Commonly associated with being an affluent and safe city, the main centers of Howard County, Columbia and Ellicott City, were named together as 4th in Money Magazine’s “America’s Best Places to Live.” This secure reputation is undoubtedly shaken by the recent assault and homicide incident that took place at an assisted living community in Columbia. The elderly suspect is a resident of the nursing home whom Police believe began striking a fellow resident in the head without having been provoked. Any sort of motive for his actions is unknown at this time.

According to the article, the victim was 91-years-old and his cause of death was reported to be death caused by head trauma. The classification of his death was deemed homicide. Investigators do not think that the suspect and the victim knew each other. The 87-year-old suspect has been charged with second-degree murder, first-degree assault, and second-degree assault. The last homicide in Howard County was in October 2008, with a total of four homicides having taken place in the county that year.

Although it is unknown at this time what prompted the alleged assault, investigators may examine the mental health of the suspect, especially since the attack took place very abruptly and at random.

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August 20, 2009

Could the Death Penalty Be Reinstated in Maryland?

A recent article in the Baltimore Sun claims that Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s administration may be reluctantly considering the resumption of executions in the state after the governor’s efforts earlier this year failed to convince Maryland’s General Assembly to make capital punishment illegal. Earlier, O’Malley postponed proposed revisions to Maryland’s lethal injection protocols while he attempted to build support for repealing death penalty legislation in Maryland. Since December 2006, Maryland has had a de facto moratorium on capital punishment but some state lawmakers have been working to have it reinstated.

People on both sides of Maryland’s death penalty issue are watching developments very closely. Cindy Boersma, the legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union which opposes the death penalty, said, "This is the first step toward restarting the machinery of death in Maryland, which is unfortunate. But to the extent this is moving forward, it's moving forward the way it should—with the opportunity for public review and comment."

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July 23, 2009

Eastern Shore Homicide: Sailor Held without Bond

This Washington Post article reports that a man is being held without bond in connection with an alleged murder that occurred in June 2009. Law enforcement officials have charged a 28-year-old man with first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing his wife, a 26-year-old, to death and making up a story about her having been killed in a carjacking. Police say that the woman’s body was found beside a rural Kent County road on Friday, June 5, 2009, and the Kent County medical examiner ruled that her death was a homicide.

The accused husband is a member of the United States Navy assigned to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station when the alleged homicide took place. He told police that he and his wife were on their way back home from Brooklyn, N.Y., when they were carjacked on the New Jersey Turnpike. Law enforcement officials charged him with causing his wife’s death when they found inconsistencies in his account of the carjacking. Maryland State Police found the couple’s car in the District of Columbia and recovered evidence that implicated the accused in the killing of his wife.

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April 7, 2009

Death Penalty Debate Set for Maryland Senate

On Tuesday, March 3, 2009, the Maryland Senate voted to open a full debate into the issue of capital punishment in the state, reports the Baltimore Sun in an article.

Under pressure from capital punishment opponent Governor Martin O’Malley, the senate first voted to turn down a measure presented by the Judicial Proceedings Committee to retain the right to administer capital punishment in certain cases. After defeating the measure by a narrow margin, the senate tallied votes to open a debate on the death penalty. The future of the debate hinged on a single vote, with a final of 24 in favor of the debates and 23 opposing.

The United States Supreme Court removed the death penalty from Maryland’s slate of punishments in 1972 in the wake of Furman v. Georgia. Six years later, the Maryland legislature passed new laws permitting capital punishment that met the Supreme Court’s definitions of fairness.

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March 31, 2009

Baltimore Stabbing Death Results in Arrest

Baltimore police have arrested Eddy M. Castillo-Diaz, 21, in connection with a stabbing death that took place February 22, 2009, in East Baltimore. According to a Baltimore Sun story, Mr. Castillo-Diaz is a native of Honduras, and police believe that he is in the United States illegally.

Mr. Castillo-Diaz has been charged with first-degree murder in Maryland, assault and weapons charges. Under Maryland law, first-degree murder can be punished by the death penalty,* life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, or life imprisonment. Should the State choose this as a capital case, the accused must be notified in writing of this intent at least 30 days before the start of the trial.

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March 5, 2009

Middle River Shooting Death Searching For Baltimore County Man

The Baltimore Sun reports in an article that the Baltimore County police are searching for 26-year-old Warren Jerome Yates of Dundalk in connection with a fatal shooting.

Police allege that on January 7, 2009, Yates sold another man $4000 worth of marijuana, for which he could be facing Maryland drug charges. The other man passed Yates a roll of bills to pay for the drugs, but only one of the bills was real.

The purchaser fled when Yates discovered the ruse, then Yates drew a gun and fired two shots at the man.

One of the shots struck 58-year-old Shirley Worcester, a Middle River resident who was standing outside of her home. The bullet hit Worcester in the chest, fatally wounding her.

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February 17, 2009

Baltimore County Man Sought in Shooting Death of Middle River Woman

The Baltimore Sun reports that the Baltimore County police are searching for 26-year-old Warren Jerome Yates of Dundalk in connection with a fatal shooting.

Police allege that on January 7, 2009, Yates sold another man $4000 worth of marijuana. The other man passed Yates a roll of bills to pay for the drugs, but only one of the bills was real.

The purchaser fled when Yates discovered the ruse, then Yates drew a gun and fired two shots at the man.

One of the shots struck 58-year-old Shirley Worcester, a Middle River resident who was standing outside of her home. The bullet hit Worcester in the chest, fatally wounding her.

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