Bloodsworth v. State, 71

CourtCourt of Appeals of Maryland
Citation512 A.2d 1056,307 Md. 164
Docket NumberNo. 71,71
PartiesKirk Noble BLOODSWORTH v. STATE of Maryland. ,
Decision Date01 September 1985
Julia Doyle Bernhardt and George E. Burns, Jr., Asst. Public Defenders (Alan H. Murrell, Public Defender, on brief), Baltimore, for appellant

Valerie V. Cloutier, Asst. Atty. Gen. (Stephen H. Sachs, Atty. Gen., on brief), Baltimore, for appellee.

Argued before SMITH, ELDRIDGE, COLE, RODOWSKY, COUCH and McAULIFFE, JJ., and CHARLES E. ORTH, Jr., Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals (retired), Specially Assigned.

SMITH, Judge.

Appellant, Kirk Noble Bloodsworth, was convicted by a Baltimore County jury of first degree murder, first degree rape, and first degree sexual offense. The trial judge subsequently determined that he should be sentenced to death.

The case reaches us pursuant to the provisions of Maryland Code (1957, 1982 Repl. Vol.) Art. 27, § 414 stating that whenever the death penalty is imposed, we shall review the sentence.

We shall reverse the conviction and remand for a new trial because we find a violation of Bloodsworth's rights under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963).


Bloodsworth challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to convict. We first address that issue because if there were insufficient evidence to convict there could be no new trial.

The applicable standard is whether after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The standard is derived from Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979). See Branch v. State, 305 Md. 177, 182-83, 502 A.2d 496, 498 (1986); State v. Rusk, 289 Md. 230, 240, 424 A.2d 720, 725 (1981); Tichnell v. State, 287 Md. 695, 717, 415 A.2d 830, 842 (1980). We summarize the evidence connecting Bloodsworth with the crime.

A bloody rock was found at the scene where the body was discovered. There was testimony that no mention of the rock was made in the press releases. It was established that there was human blood on the rock.

Bloodsworth was identified by individuals other than young Christian Shipley and his companion, Jackie Poling, as being in the area before, during, and after the occurrence. Shipley said he and Jackie went fishing at a local pond. While they were there a man came down the path and stopped by to look at the turtle Jackie had caught. Shortly thereafter Dawn Hamilton, the victim, came by and said she was looking for her cousin, Lisa. The boys refused to help her find Lisa. However, the man agreed to help and walked off with Dawn.

Young Shipley provided a description for a composite picture of the man in question. He later picked out a person in a photoarray said by him to be the man at the pond. Later testimony confirmed this photo to be one of Bloodsworth. At a police line-up Shipley identified the man in the number six position as the person he saw go off with Jackie Poling said he saw a man coming down the path but could not remember what he was wearing or what he looked like. He did testify that Dawn came to the pond looking for her cousin and left the pond with the man. He then testified that he went to the police station where he attended a line-up at which he picked out the wrong person because he was scared. When he left the line-up room he stated to his mother that he had picked out the wrong man because he was scared. He told his mother who the correct person was. That person was the individual in the number six position at the line-up. Because of Jackie's inability to remember what had occurred, the State introduced his statement taken the day of the murder and the statement he made after the line-up identification. The first statement corroborated his testimony and gave a description of the man. The second statement identified the person in the number six position as the individual he saw at the pond. Jackie's mother corroborated her son's testimony.

                Dawn.   The man in the number six position was identified in court as Bloodsworth

Donna Ferguson, a resident of the area, testified that she saw Dawn at approximately 10:30 a.m. talking to a man by a fence leading into the woods. She gave a description. She attended a police line-up where she picked out the person in the number six position as the man she had seen talking to Dawn. She made an in-court identification of Bloodsworth as the individual she had picked out of the line-up.

Detective Capel testified that he responded to a missing person's call placed by Bloodsworth's wife which led him eventually to his initial meeting with Bloodsworth in Cambridge. At that time he took a Polaroid photograph of Bloodsworth which he later inserted in the number four position in an array of six photographs shown to Jackie Poling and Chris Shipley. Capel testified that Poling did not identify Bloodsworth but that Shipley did identify him in Detective Capel testified that he returned to Cambridge with a warrant for Bloodsworth's arrest and placed him under arrest. During an initial interview Capel took out a pair of white panties and placed them in front of Bloodsworth. He said Bloodsworth reacted to this by claiming that he did not hurt the girl and Bloodsworth also mentioned a bloody rock. The detective testified that only a few officers and the murderer knew about the rock and Bloodsworth was unable to explain his knowledge. Capel corroborated the line-up identifications of Bloodsworth by Poling, Shipley, Donna Ferguson, and two other individuals who said they had seen Bloodsworth in the neighborhood. He also identified the line-up photograph showing Bloodsworth in the number six position and the photoarray with him in the number four position.

                the photoarray as the man he had seen with Dawn at the pond.   The photoarray was introduced into evidence

Tina Christopher testified as to a conversation she had with Bloodsworth at Cambridge in which he talked about a little girl and clothing. She indicated that he said something happened to this little girl and the police had accused him of killing her. She recalled his discussing a bloody rock, light blue shorts and white top, and some other man who was with him who took the little girl off into the woods. Later in her testimony she again described a conversation with Bloodsworth immediately after he returned from the police station. At that time he discussed the girl, her clothes, the bloody rock, and a man who was with him who he claimed was supposed to have done the crime. Because of her inability to clearly remember the details of the situation, her statement to the police made at the time was also introduced into evidence and is discussed in Part 6 of this opinion (Past Recollection Recorded). The statement said in relevant part:

"Q. When Kirk came in and started talking, what did he say to you?

"A. He was talking about ... it was bits and pieces. I thought he was talking about his daughter. He starting The State's final witness was Rose Carson of Cambridge at whose home Bloodsworth stayed while he was in Cambridge. She said that he told her he had done something bad, that he was afraid his wife was not going to take him back, and that he hoped to get admitted to the State hospital. 1 He also told her he was suspected of killing and raping a little girl.

                talking about this little girl and her clothes and a beach.   Something about a rock ... I didn't pay too much attention to him.   Finally he started putting it all together.   He said that him and someone else were down there talking with this little girl and boy, and the guy was with him said something to the little girl.   The guy did something and the little girl ask him to help her find somebody.   Then he [512 A.2d 1059] said this guy went with the girl and then he stopped talking.   I asked him who the guy was and he would not tell me.   Then he come up with this little girl and talking about her again.   It was like he was talking in a daze.   He described her clothes and a rock that was suppose to be bloody.   He said she was wearing a pair of light blue shorts and a white top and he said something again about a rock that was suppose to be bloody.   Then he left and me and Tina and Bobby left.   It was awhile and then he came back.   Me and Tina were sitting in the living room and he was telling us that some officer took him down the police station and took pictures of them and he saw what was suppose to be the girls clothes and the rock laying beside them and he asked the officer was that the little girls clothes.   When he got done telling us bits and pieces of that story, he kept asking me and Tina were we scared of him.   I told him I don't know.   That's about it....  He said if you are scared of me you don't have any reason to be, cause I did not do it.   I don't know what he meant by that."

The evidence, as Bloodsworth points out, is almost entirely circumstantial, but, as Judge Henderson said for the Court in Breeding v. State, 220 Md. 193, 198, 151 A.2d 743, 746 (1959), "that is not a fatal objection." See also Veney v. State, 251 Md. 182, 201, 246 A.2d 568, 579 (1968). We think a rational trier of fact could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that Bloodsworth committed the crimes.


Bloodsworth filed a discovery motion which, in addition to a general request for all exculpatory material, requested "the names, addresses, and physical descriptions of any persons other than the defendant who were arrested or otherwise taken into custody by police or prosecution officials as a possible suspect in this case in which the defendant is charged." Later he requested production by the State of "any and all information of which it is aware including but not limited to line-ups, photospreads, or reports to law enforcement authorities, identifying or suggesting that...

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