Faulkner v. State, 42, 43, Sept. Term, 2019

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtBiran, J.
Citation468 Md. 418,227 A.3d 584
Parties David R. FAULKNER v. STATE of Maryland Jonathan D. Smith v. State of Maryland
Docket NumberNo. 42, 43, Sept. Term, 2019,42, 43, Sept. Term, 2019
Decision Date27 April 2020

468 Md. 418
227 A.3d 584

David R. FAULKNER
v.
STATE of Maryland

Jonathan D. Smith
v.
State of Maryland

No. 42, 43, Sept. Term, 2019

Court of Appeals of Maryland.

April 27, 2020


Argued by John W.F. Chesley (Arianna M. Scavetti and Michael R. Dziuban, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP, Washington, DC; Shawn Armbrust and Frances Walters, The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, George Washington University Law School, Washington, DC), on brief, for Petitioner (No. 42, Sept. Term, 2019).

Argued by Cathleen C. Brockmeyer, Assistant Attorney General (Brian E. Frosh, Attorney General of Maryland, Baltimore, MD), on brief, for Respondent (No. 42, Sept. Term, 2019).

Argued by Donald P. Salzman (Nathan P. Wacker, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, Washington, DC; Barry C. Scheck, The Innocence Project, New York, NY), on brief, for Petitioner (No. 43, Sept. Term, 2019).

Argued by Cathleen C. Brockmeyer, Assistant Attorney General (Brian E. Frosh, Attorney General of Maryland, Baltimore, MD), on brief, for Respondent (No. 43, Sept. Term, 2019).

Amicus Curiae Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys Association in support of Petitioner: Erica J. Suter, Esquire, Law Offices Erica J. Suter, LLC, 6305 Ivy Lane, Suite 700, Greenbelt, MD 20770, Steven M. Klepper, Esquire, Kramon & Graham, P.A., One South Street, Suite 2600, Baltimore, MD 21202, Robin K. Henley, Esquire, Henley & Henley, 47 West Street, Annapolis, MD 21401, Andrew V. Jezic, Esquire, Jezic & Moyse, LLC, 2730 University Blvd. West #604, Wheaton, MD 20902.

Amicus Curiae the Innocence Network in support of Petitioner: Jonathan M. Cohen, Esquire, John Longstreth, Esquire, Daniel S. Cohen, Esquire K& L Gates LLP, 1601 K St. NW, Washington, DC 20006.

Amicus Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in support of Petitioner: David B. Smith, Esquire, Vice-Chair, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 1660 L Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036, Kristin Saetveit, Esquire, John S. Williams, Esquire, Jane Y. Chong, Esquire, Vanessa O. Omoroghomwan, Esquire, Williams & Connolly LLP, 725 Twelfth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20005.

Argued before: McDonald, Watts, Hotten, Getty, Biran, Glenn T. Harrell, Jr. (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), and Clayton Greene, Jr. (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.

Biran, J.

227 A.3d 588
468 Md. 425

On the afternoon of January 5, 1987, Adeline Curry Wilford, 68, was brutally murdered in the kitchen of her home just outside Easton in Talbot County, Maryland. The Maryland State Police ("MSP") officers who arrived on the scene saw that the house had been ransacked. They discovered the palm print of a suspected burglar on the exterior of a propped-up window in the utility room of Ms. Wilford's home, as well as a palm print on the washing machine inside the utility room. MSP theorized that the burglar(s) who left the palm prints murdered Ms. Wilford. MSP was unable to match the palm prints to any person during the initial investigation. The case went cold.

Between 1991 and 1992, a confidential informant told MSP that his friend William Thomas had confessed to him that Thomas burglarized Ms. Wilford's home and stabbed Ms. Wilford to death. The informant further stated that Thomas said his accomplice in the crime was Ty Brooks. MSP learned that both Thomas and Ty Brooks had criminal records involving armed robbery and burglary convictions, respectively, in Talbot County in the 1980s, and that both suspects were at liberty on the day of the Wilford burglary and murder. However, MSP did not attempt to determine in 1991-92 whether the palm prints left at the scene of the crime matched the palm prints of either suspect. The case went cold again.

In January 2000, 13 years after the murder and at the urging of Ms. Wilford's son, MSP reopened the investigation

468 Md. 426

by interviewing Beverly Haddaway. Haddaway told MSP that her nephew, Petitioner Jonathan D. Smith, as well as Petitioner David R. Faulkner and a third young man, Ray Andrews, were involved in the Wilford murder. Although the palm prints at the scene of the crime did not match Smith, Faulkner, or Andrews, and no other physical evidence linked them to the crime, authorities charged Smith, Faulkner, and Andrews with burglary, murder, and related offenses in the Circuit Court for Talbot County. The charges were based largely on statements made by Smith and Andrews, as well as Haddaway's claim that she saw the three young men walk out of a corn field approximately two-and-a-half to three miles away from the Wilford home on the afternoon of January 5, 1987, and that Smith had blood on his shirt at that time.

Andrews entered into a plea agreement with the State, under which the State agreed to recommend a five-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter. Andrews testified against Smith and Faulkner in separate jury trials in 2001. Haddaway

227 A.3d 589

also was a key witness for the State in both trials. In his trial, Smith admitted that he had made self-incriminating statements previously. However, Smith claimed that his prior confessions were false, and that he had admitted involvement in the crime to MSP only after officers threatened him with lethal injection and told him he would never see his family again if he did not confess. In his trial, Faulkner introduced evidence that showed he was paid for having worked on the day of the murder at his job in Centreville, Maryland, but did not produce a time-clock card or other evidence showing definitively that he was at work at the time of the murder.

Both Smith and Faulkner were convicted of burglary and murder, and both were sentenced to life in prison. Smith's and Faulkner's direct appeals and petitions for post-conviction relief proved unsuccessful.

By 2013, Smith and Faulkner both had new sets of attorneys, who moved the circuit court to order the State to run the unidentified palm prints through Maryland's recently created automated print identification system. After an MSP fingerprint

468 Md. 427

expert did so, he discovered that the palm prints left by the suspected burglar belong to Ty Brooks. The State has never theorized, let alone produced any evidence, that Smith, Faulkner, and Andrews worked with Ty Brooks and William Thomas to burglarize Ms. Wilford's home and kill her.

Smith and Faulkner also learned in 2012 that the State had suppressed recorded pretrial conversations between Haddaway and an MSP officer assigned to the Wilford case. Those recordings revealed, among other things, that Haddaway demanded and received the dismissal of drug charges against her grandson in a secret agreement that Haddaway made with law enforcement authorities shortly before she testified against Smith and Faulkner.

Smith and Faulkner filed petitions for writs of actual innocence under Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. ("CP") § 8-301 (2008, 2018 Repl. Vol.), contending that, if the newly discovered palm print evidence and pertinent portions of the Haddaway recordings (as well as other purportedly newly discovered evidence) had been provided to their juries, there is a substantial or significant possibility that the juries would have reached different results. The Circuit Court for Talbot County denied relief to both Smith and Faulkner, and the Court of Special Appeals affirmed. For the reasons discussed in this Opinion, we will reverse the denial of Smith's and Faulkner's petitions for writs of actual innocence and order new trials for both Petitioners.1

I

Background

A. The Murder of Ms. Wilford

At approximately 3:00 p.m. on the afternoon of January 5, 1987, a neighbor of Adeline Wilford discovered her body in the

468 Md. 428

kitchen of Ms. Wilford's farmhouse off Kingston Road near Easton. Subsequent investigation by MSP revealed that, at 2:10 p.m. that day, Ms. Wilford was photographed at a bank in Easton by the bank's security system, while driving her car through the drive-through lane. Thus, the murder occurred after Ms. Wilford returned home, at some point between 2:10 and 3:00 p.m.

227 A.3d 590

Ms. Wilford's neighbor notified police of the murder, and multiple MSP units responded to the farmhouse, arriving shortly before 3:30 p.m. When the officers arrived, they saw only Ms. Wilford's car parked in the driveway. There was enough space between Ms. Wilford's car and the porch for another car to have parked between Ms. Wilford's car and the house.

When they entered the home, the officers found Ms. Wilford lying face up on the kitchen floor, wearing a blue wool coat. She had a pair of glasses on a cord around her neck. Her keys hung in the lock of the back door leading into the kitchen, and bags of groceries were on the kitchen table. There were numerous stab wounds to Ms. Wilford's hands and face, and a large butcher knife was imbedded in Ms. Wilford's cheek/eye area. There were numerous defensive...

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32 practice notes
  • Smith v. State, 283, Sept. Term,2021
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • September 28, 2022
    ...underlying facts and proceedings have been detailed in previous reported opinions. See 283 A.3d 726 Faulkner and Smith v. State , 468 Md. 418, 227 A.3d 584 (2020) ; Smith v. State , 233 Md. App. 372 , 165 A.3d 561 (2017).2 We set forth here only the facts needed to address the issues ......
  • Jocelyn P. v. Joshua P., 2125, Sept. Term, 2019
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • April 29, 2021
    ...however, a court's discretion is always tempered by the requirement that the court apply the correct legal standards. Faulkner v. State , 468 Md. 418, 460-61, 227 A.3d 584 (2020) (citing Jackson v. Sollie , 449 Md. 165, 196, 141 A.3d 1122 (2016) ); Matter of Dory , 244 Md. App. 177, 203, 22......
  • Montague v. State, 75, Sept. Term, 2019
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • December 23, 2020
    ...any center mark imagined by the reviewing court and beyond the fringe of what that court deems minimally acceptable." Faulkner v. State , 468 Md. 418, 460, 227 A.3d 584 (2020) (quoting King v. State , 407 Md. 682, 697, 967 A.2d 790 (2009) ). Based on the evidence before 471 Md. 696 the tria......
  • Motor Vehicle Admin. v. Geppert, 61, September Term, 2019
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 27, 2020
    ...pointed out, a circuit court must exercise its discretion in accordance with correct 233 A.3d 117 legal standards. Faulkner v. State , 468 Md. 418, 460, 227 A.3d 584 (2020) ; Wilson-X v. Department of Human Resources , 403 Md. 667, 675, 944 A.2d 509 (2008). Accordingly, we will consider thi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
32 cases
  • Smith v. State, 283, Sept. Term,2021
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • September 28, 2022
    ...underlying facts and proceedings have been detailed in previous reported opinions. See 283 A.3d 726 Faulkner and Smith v. State , 468 Md. 418, 227 A.3d 584 (2020) ; Smith v. State , 233 Md. App. 372 , 165 A.3d 561 (2017).2 We set forth here only the facts needed to address the issues ......
  • Jocelyn P. v. Joshua P., 2125, Sept. Term, 2019
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • April 29, 2021
    ...however, a court's discretion is always tempered by the requirement that the court apply the correct legal standards. Faulkner v. State , 468 Md. 418, 460-61, 227 A.3d 584 (2020) (citing Jackson v. Sollie , 449 Md. 165, 196, 141 A.3d 1122 (2016) ); Matter of Dory , 244 Md. App. 177, 203, 22......
  • Montague v. State, 75, Sept. Term, 2019
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • December 23, 2020
    ...any center mark imagined by the reviewing court and beyond the fringe of what that court deems minimally acceptable." Faulkner v. State , 468 Md. 418, 460, 227 A.3d 584 (2020) (quoting King v. State , 407 Md. 682, 697, 967 A.2d 790 (2009) ). Based on the evidence before 471 Md. 696 the tria......
  • Motor Vehicle Admin. v. Geppert, 61, September Term, 2019
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 27, 2020
    ...pointed out, a circuit court must exercise its discretion in accordance with correct 233 A.3d 117 legal standards. Faulkner v. State , 468 Md. 418, 460, 227 A.3d 584 (2020) ; Wilson-X v. Department of Human Resources , 403 Md. 667, 675, 944 A.2d 509 (2008). Accordingly, we will consider thi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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