Brown v. State, s. 850

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Citation74 Md.App. 414,538 A.2d 317
Docket Number851,Nos. 850,s. 850
PartiesSteven J. BROWN v. STATE of Maryland. Tyrus T. BROWN v. STATE of Maryland. ,
Decision Date01 September 1987

Page 414

74 Md.App. 414
538 A.2d 317
Steven J. BROWN
STATE of Maryland.
Tyrus T. BROWN
STATE of Maryland.
Nos. 850, 851, Sept. Term, 1987.
Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.
March 4, 1988.

Page 415

Sherrie B. Glasser, Asst. Public Defender (Alan H. Murrell, Public Defender, on the brief), Baltimore, for appellants.

Beverly Peyton Griffith, Asst. Atty. Gen. (J. Joseph Curran, Jr., Atty. Gen., Baltimore, Warren B. Duckett, Jr., State's Atty., for Anne Arundel County and Phillip Caroom, Asst. State's Atty., for Anne Arundel County, on the brief), Annapolis, for appellee.

[538 A.2d 318] Argued before ALPERT, BLOOM and KARWACKI, JJ.


A jury in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County convicted Steven J. Brown and Tyrus T. Brown, appellants,

Page 416

of the theft of several typewriters and word processors from the Arundel Office Equipment Store on April 18, 1986. The court sentenced each appellant to five years imprisonment, suspended their sentences, and placed each appellant on probation for a period of five years. In this appeal from those judgments, appellants contend that the trial judge erred when he precluded defense counsel from cross-examining the State's primary witness about her arrest on unrelated charges prior to her testimony at appellants' trial. Appellants also contend that certain testimony of a second witness was irrelevant and prejudicial, but we will not address that contention because we agree that the trial court abused its discretion to control the limits of appellants' cross-examination.

Prior to calling Vanessa Coleman, the State's sole witness as to the criminal agencies of the appellants, the State moved in limine that defense counsel not be allowed to cross-examine her concerning her arrest on May 15, 1986. The testimony at the hearing on that motion, conducted out of the presence of the jury, developed the following facts.

On May 15, 1986, Officer Steven Dunn of the Anne Arundel County Police Department observed two women fleeing from the W.R. Blair Jewelry Store in Annapolis. Officer Dunn apprehended Vanessa Coleman and recovered a ring that had been stolen from the jewelry store. The second woman fled from the scene.

After her arrest, Ms. Coleman attempted to explain her participation in the theft of the ring, claiming that the second woman, whom she identified as Sheila Jones, used a shotgun to force her to commit the crime. In support of her claim, Ms. Coleman told Officer Dunn that the shotgun could be found at the home of her boyfriend, Tony Brown, hidden under his bed. Although Officer Dunn hadn't noticed Sheila Jones in possession of a shotgun, he nevertheless went to the residence of Tony Brown after Vanessa Coleman had been taken to Southern Police Station. Sheila Jones was not present at appellants' house when Officer Dunn arrived, but a shotgun was located under the bed that

Page 417

Ms. Coleman had described. Officer Dunn seized the shotgun.

Later that evening, while Officer Dunn was preparing the charges that were to be filed against Ms. Coleman, she volunteered further information concerning Tony Brown and his brothers, the appellants in the instant case. She told Officer Dunn that while she was at the Brown residence approximately one month earlier, appellants, along with their brother, Tony, 1 broke into the Arundel Office Equipment Store and stole several typewriters. She further claimed that she accompanied the Brown brothers when they attempted to sell the typewriters to an unidentified individual who later purchased them.

On receipt of this information, Officer Dunn notified Detective James K. Ritchie of the Anne Arundel County Police Department, who was investigating the April 18, 1986, theft from the Arundel Office Equipment Store. Ms. Coleman repeated her statements to Detective Ritchie. When she finished, Detective Ritchie told her that he would bring her cooperation to the attention of the State's Attorney. Ms. Coleman subsequently reduced her statements to writing. The charges filed against Ms. Coleman in connection with the theft of the ring were nol prossed prior to her testimony at appellants' trial.

Detective Ritchie stated that despite his promise to do so, he never spoke with the Assistant State's Attorney responsible for the prosecution of the theft from the W.R. Blair Jewelry Store. Richard Duden, the Assistant State's Attorney assigned that prosecution, testified that he could not recall the reason why he nol prossed the charges against Vanessa Coleman.

[538 A.2d 319] The court granted the State's motion in limine, and ordered defense counsel not to question Ms. Coleman about her arrest or the circumstances which surrounded the inculpatory statements she made to the police. Coleman's testimony

Page 418

was the only evidence offered at trial that linked appellants to the theft with which they were charged. When cross-examined, she testified that she came...

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38 cases
  • Ebb v. State, 117
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 1 Septiembre 1994
    ...... Pettie v. State, 316 Md. 509, 512-18 [560 A.2d 577] (1989); Brown v. State, 74 Md.App. 414, 415-22 [538 A.2d 317] (1988). As we explained in the Brown case, however, it is not even an explicit agreement between the ......
  • Wiggins v. State, 211
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 1 Septiembre 1991
    ...limit cross-examination before the defendant has reached his "constitutionally required threshold level of inquiry." Brown v. State, 74 Md.App. 414, 419, 538 A.2d 317 (1988). The Court of Appeals, in Smallwood v. State, 320 Md. 300, 577 A.2d 356 (1990), recently discussed the issue of cross......
  • Myers v. State, 2933, Sept. Term, 2018
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 6 Noviembre 2019 well as rulings on the admissibility of physical or documentary evidence. As Judge Karwacki noted for this Court in Brown v. State, 74 Md. App. 414, 419, 538 A.2d 317 (1988) :[T]he Confrontation Clause does not extinguish the wide latitude that a trial judge retains to impose reasonable ......
  • Dionas v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 1 Julio 2011
    ...of leniency is not required to present evidence of an agreement between the witness and the State or the court. Brown v. State, 74 Md.App. 414, 420, 538 A.2d 317 (1988). Accord Calloway, 414 Md. at 637, 996 A.2d 869. Rather, the “ ‘the crux of the inquiry ... is the witness's state of mind.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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