Anderson v. State, 030719 MDSCA, 2535-2017

Docket Nº:2535-2017
Opinion Judge:Wright, J.
Judge Panel:Wright, Graeff, Sharer, J. Frederick, (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.
Case Date:March 07, 2019
Court:Court of Special Appeals of Maryland




No. 2535-2017

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

March 7, 2019

Circuit Court for Montgomery County Case No. 119964

Wright, Graeff, Sharer, J. Frederick, (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.


Wright, J.

This case is before us for the second time. In 2012, Russell Anderson, appellant, and a co-defendant, Timothy McLaughlin, were charged with raping Rosa M. on December 22, 1989. After a jury trial in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, appellant was convicted of two counts of first-degree rape and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. On appeal, we held that certain evidence had been improperly admitted at trial, reversed appellant's convictions, and remanded the case for a new trial. Anderson v. State, 220 Md.App. 509 (2014). After a new trial, appellant was again convicted by a jury of two counts of first-degree rape and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. It is from those convictions that appellant noted this timely appeal.


The sole issue presented for our consideration is whether the circuit court improperly precluded the defense from questioning Rosa M. about her testimony in the first trial. For the reasons set forth below, we shall affirm.


In 1989, twenty-two-year-old Rosa M.1 lived in a sixth-floor apartment at the Summit Hills apartment building in Silver Spring, Maryland.2 On the morning of December 22, 1989, Rosa M. went to the laundry room, which was on either the 2nd floor or in the lobby of the apartment building. While she was checking on her laundry, the lights went off and the room became dark. When she turned around, she saw a man whose face was covered and she could see only his eyes. The man held a handgun to her temple and told her to move to the back of the room. Another man, whose face was also covered, entered the room and closed the door. The men, who spoke English, told her to lie down on the floor. Each man then raped Rosa M. as the other man held the gun to her head. Neither man wore a condom and both ejaculated in her. When they were finished, the men opened the laundry room door and quickly left. Rosa M. returned to her apartment, took off her clothes, and bathed. She waited for her husband to come home from work and then told him what had happened.

The police were called and, thereafter, two officers, one of whom spoke Spanish and served as a translator, questioned Rosa M. about the incident and collected her clothes. Rosa M. provided an oral statement in Spanish, that was written in English, and reviewed his statement with the Spanish-speaking officer before she signed it.

Rosa M. went to the hospital and was examined. Among other things, a vaginal swab and samples from the crotch of her shorts were collected and tested. Serology testing identified sperm on both the vaginal swab and the shorts. No DNA testing was done at that time, but the items were preserved for future testing. Police were unable to develop a suspect in the case.

Irma Melgar lived with her partner, who was Rosa M.'s brother-in-law, and their two children in the same apartment as Rosa M. and her family. On December 22, 1989, Ms. Melgar went to the laundry room about 10 to 15 minutes after Rosa M. When she arrived, the door to the laundry room was locked, but she had a key. When she opened the door and turned on the lights, she saw a man with a gun. She also observed Rosa M. sitting in the corner by some washing machines. The man pointed the gun at Ms. Melgar and told her to give him her quarters and sit in the corner of the room. He told Ms. Melgar not to move and said that he was leaving, but would be back. After the man left, Ms. Melgar waited for "maybe two seconds," then opened the door, saw that the man was not there, and ran back to the apartment. Rosa M. followed Ms. Melgar back to the apartment. According to Ms. Melgar, Rosa M. never told her that she had been raped.

Years after the incident, appellant and McLaughlin's DNA were obtained "from a database that was accessible for search and comparison." Rosa M.'s case was reopened in 2012, and police obtained search warrants for buccal swabs from appellant and McLaughlin.

Erin Farr, a forensic scientist at the Montgomery County Police Crime Laboratory, who testified as an expert in forensic biology, conducted DNA testing on a number of items including a blood sample from Rosa M., buccal swabs obtained from appellant and McLaughlin, a sperm fraction from Rosa M.'s vaginal swab, a sperm fraction and non-sperm fraction from Rosa M.'s shorts, and a sperm fraction obtained from a tissue Rosa M. had used to wipe her vaginal area after the incident. Ms. Farr concluded that the DNA profiles obtained from the sperm fractions from the vaginal swab and the shorts were consistent with appellant's DNA. A mixed DNA profile was obtained from the sperm fraction on the tissue, and appellant "was included as the major contributor of that mixed profile." In addition, testing of non-sperm material on the shorts revealed a mixed DNA profile consisting of at least three individuals, including appellant and McLaughlin. We shall include additional facts as necessary...

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