Cook v. State

Decision Date15 June 1961
Docket NumberNo. 308,308
Citation171 A.2d 460,225 Md. 603
PartiesGeorge Edward COOK v. STATE of Maryland.
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

John P. Moore, Silver Spring, for appellant.

Joseph S. Kaufman, Deputy Atty. Gen. (Thomas B. Finan, Atty. Gen., and Leonard Kardy, State's Atty. for Montgomery County, Rockville, on the brief), for appellee.



George Edward Cook was convicted, in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, of murder in the first degree, and sentenced to confinement for the period of his natural life.

There was testimony, which, if believed by the jury, established the following facts: the appellant was 43 years of age and had been married for 19 of them. The deceased, one Fred Blowers, was 41 years old, and he also was married. Blowers, his wife and the appellant all worked at the same place in Bethesda, Maryland--Blowers working a shift from late afternoon until midnight, and his wife and the appellant working the day shift. The appellant and Blowers' wife became enamored of each other, and they had had sexual relations several times before May 24, 1960 (this was admitted by the appellant), the date when Blowers was killed.

On the day of the killing, the appellant went to the Blowers apartment at about 5:00 p. m., accompanied by his son David, age 15, and six bottles of beer. Blowers and David went outside to work on Blowers' car. The appellant admitted kissing and making love to Mrs. Blowers during their absence, and also asked her 'to go away with him,' which she declined to do.

When Blowers and David returned, the appellant and Blowers finished consuming the beer, and the appellant went out and got two bottles of whiskey. The appellant, Blowers and David began drinking the whiskey, and Blowers, challenging David as to his ability to consume the same, poured him large drinks until the boy became sick and insensible. At about 10:45 p. m., the appellant carried his son to appellant's automobile and took him to his home in Frederick, a distance of some 12 to 15 miles. There was no argument between the appellant and the deceased, who retired about 11:00 p. m.

Later, Mrs. Blowers was awakened by a knocking at the door. Her husband called, 'George, is that you?' An affirmative response was made by a voice, which she recognized as Cook's. Blowers unlatched the door, but did not open it, and went to the bathroom. There was another knock on the door, and her husband said, 'Come in.' She heard someone say, 'Freddy,' and her husband reply, 'Yes,' and then came the shot. She saw Cook, the appellant, going through the living room, out the door, with a gun in his hand.

Mrs. Blowers' 16-year-old daughter was also awakened by a knocking on the door and she heard a few words, spoken moderately, between her father and the visitor, and the voice of the latter was Cook's.

The manager of the apartment house where the Blowers family lived was awakened by the shot. He raised the curtain, and saw a green Oldsmobile, belonging to Cook, leave the parking lot, with the headlights off.

The appellant was apprehended at his home in Frederick at about 12:45 a. m. on the morning of May 25th. A search of his premises produced a 12-gauge shotgun found under a shack in the rear of the home, a green Oldsmobile and a fired 12-gauge shotgun shell on the ground a few feet from its left front wheel. An expert testified that this shell had been fired from the gun found in the rear of the appellant's premises.

The appellant, testifying in his own behalf, confirmed the events down to the time that he took David home, as they have been related above. However, he claimed that he had no recollection of what occurred after he tried to 'revive' David when the appellant got him home. He said that he had no recollection of returning to the Blowers' apartment, and denied that he owned a shotgun at the time of the killing, and that he had told the police, as they claimed, that he had borrowed his brother's shotgun. The first thing that he recalled after trying to revive David was when the police came to take the appellant into custody.

The appellant makes five assignments of error: (1) that the trial court erred in failing to include the issue of insanity in his instructions to the jury; (2) that there was error in the trial court's failing to rule on the appellant's request for a new trial; (3) that it was reversible error to admit into evidence two photographs of the deceased; (4) that the trial court was in error in refusing the appellant's motion to withdraw a juror and declare a mistrial; and (5) that the appellant's motion for a directed verdict should have been granted.


No extended discussion of this point is required. The indictment was returned on October 6, 1960. October 28th following, the appellant filed a written plea of insanity. On November 2, 1960, the court ordered that he be confined in a State hospital on an ambulatory basis for observation and that at the expiration of the period of observation he be returned for trial, and a copy of the order was sent to the Department of Mental Hygiene. On November 22, 1960, he was arraigned and pleaded not guilty. Although the report of the Department of Mental Hygiene is not in the record, obviously the Department determined he was sane; otherwise he would not have been returned for trial. Code (1957), Article 59, Section 11. No evidence was offered at the trial in an attempt to establish that the defendant was insane. After informing the jury that his instructions were advisory, the court below instructed them that they could return any one of five possible verdicts, none of which related to the question of the defendant's insanity. No objection to the court's omission of such an issue in his charge was made, nor was there any request that he include the issue of insanity therein. In the absence of a showing that the trial court's failure to include the issue of insanity in his instructions constituted plain error material to the rights of the accused, a showing that the record fails to reveal, the question, clearly, is not before us for determination. Maryland Rule 739 f, g. Cf. Code (1957), Article 59, Section 7, and Rose v. State, 177 Md. 577, 582, 10 A.2d 617.


After his conviction, the defendant mailed an undated communication to the Clerk of the Circuit Court. It was received by the Clerk some twenty-six days after the jury's verdict. It read, in pertinent part: 'I would like for you to make a note of appeal * * *. I have new evidence pertaining to my case and would like to have a new trial.' The Clerk treated this communication as an appeal, and entered the appeal on his docket. Three days thereafter, the court appointed counsel for the defendant. The defendant now claims (for the first time) that his communication was a motion for a new trial, and the lower court erred in not hearing and ruling upon the motion. This is obviously an afterthought: no request, even after counsel was appointed for the appellant, was made for a hearing on the purported motion for a new trial. Moreover, if it were a motion for a new trial, it was filed too late. Maryland Rule 567 a. We find no error here.


During the course of the trial, the...

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  • Johnson v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • September 1, 1984
    ...the sound discretion of the trial judge. Bowers v. State, 298 Md. 115, 135-36, 468 A.2d 101, 111-12 (1983), quoting Cook v. State, 225 Md. 603, 608, 171 A.2d 460, 463 (1961), cert. denied, 368 U.S. 970, 82 S.Ct. 445, 7 L.Ed.2d 398 (1962). A court's determination in this area will not be dis......
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