Gladden v. State

Decision Date15 March 1974
Docket NumberNo. 595,595
Citation316 A.2d 319,20 Md.App. 492
PartiesJohn Michael GLADDEN v. STATE of Maryland.
CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland

Arnold M. Zerwitz and Geraldine K. Sweeney, Baltimore, for appellant.

Alexander L. Cummings, Asst. Atty. Gen., with whom were Francis B. Burch, Atty. Gen., Milton B. Allen, State's Atty. for Baltimore City and Sandra O'Connor, Asst. State's Atty. for Baltimore City on the brief, for appellee.

Argued before MORTON, MOYLAN and GILBERT, JJ.

MOYLAN, Judge.

The doctrine of 'transferred intent' has long been recognized at common law. Sir Matthew Hale, in 1 History of the Pleas of the Crown (published posthumously in 1736), said, at 466:

'To these may be added the cases abovementioned, viz. if A. by malice fore-thought strikes at B. and missing him strikes C. whereof he dies, tho he never bore any malice to C. yet it is murder, and the law transfers the malice to the party slain; the like of poisoning.'

Forty years later, Sir William Blackstone, in 4 Commentaries on the Laws of England, reiterated the common law rule according to Hale, at 200-201:

'Thus if one shoots at A. and misses him, but kills B., this is murder; because of the previous felonious intent, which the law transfers from one to the other. The same is the case where one lays poison for A.; and B., against whom the prisoner had no malicious intent, takes it, and it kills him; this is likewise murder.'

Strangely, that almost universally recognized common law doctrine has never been squarely before the appellate courts of Maryland until the present appeal of John Michael 'Box' Gladden from his convictions of murder in the first degree and of the use of a handgun in the commission of a felony by a Baltimore City jury, presided over by Judge Marshall A. Levin. The worth of the common law doctrine, however, is made well apparent by the tragic and senseless slaying of the innocent 12-year old victim in the case at bar.

Testimony in this case permitted the following findings of fact to be made by the jury. Walter Edward 'Rabbi' Siegel had known the appellant, 'Box,' for several years. The killing occurred on March 12, 1973, at approximately 2:30 p. m. About one week before, 'Rabbi' had purchased two 'dime bags' of heroin from 'Box.' 'Rabbi' was subsequently disenchanted when the heroin turned out to be of an inferior grade. Three or four days thereafter, 'Rabbi' undertook to redeem the situation by self-help. He hunted 'Box' down in a bar and robbed him, at gunpoint, of $5 and several bags of drugs. By March 12, therefore, the pendulum of retribution had swung the other way, and it was 'Box' who came gunning for 'Rabbi.'

'Rabbi' was sitting on some front steps in the 2300 block of Barclay Street with a girlfriend and fellow heroin 'shooter,' Patsy Lou Quickly. Miss Quickly first noticed the approach of 'Box' and sounded the alarm. She interposed herself between the two men, importuning, 'Don't kill him, don't kill him, I'll give you mine.' Those few seconds of breathing space gave 'Rabbi' the opportunity to duck behind a truck. 'Box' took up the pursuit. 'Box' chased 'Rabbi' several times around the truck, wildly firing off four or five shots. When the gun emptied, 'Rabbi' got away unscathed. Several witnesses observed the whole affray. One noticed that one of the bullets went through a window, one hit a window sill and the other two bullets struck nearby houses. Another witness noticed that children were in the area, school having just adjourned.

Kenneth Nixon, age 16, and William Jeffrey Nixon, age 12, were in their home at 2325 Barclay Street, when at 2:30 p. m. they heard excitement outside. Jeffrey Nixon was seated on the living room couch. Kenneth Nixon went to a window and observed 'Box,' whom he identified, and another man running around. He heard three shots. He then saw his brother jump up from the couch, claiming he had been shot. Jeffrey ran upstairs. Kenneth followed and found his brother lying on the floor. The autopsy revealed that a .45 caliber bullet had pierced his heart and both lungs.

The appellant contends that he should not have been convicted of murder, since he bore no malice toward the victim. He urges upon us that the common law doctrine of 'transferred intent' should not be received into Maryland, although he acknowledges that this is the law in the overwhelming majority of common law jurisdictions. We have no difficulty in deciding that 'transferred intent' is, and should be, a part of the common law of this State.

The state of the law is too clear to permit of doubt. Hochheimer, Crimes and Criminal Procedure (2d Ed., 1904), says, at 374:

'Upon principles heretofore stated, criminal liability attaches, if homicide is caused in any of the following ways:

1. By an act designed to take human life, tho no injury to the person actually killed was contemplated, as where a blow aimed at one person lights upon and kills another . . .'

Clark and Marshall, A Treatise on the Law of Crimes (6th, Wingersky Ed., 1958), says, at 578:

'Whenever an accountable man kills another intentionally, he is guilty of murder with express malice unless the killing is justifiable or excusable, or unless there are such circumstances of provocation as will reduce the homicide to manslaughter. This principle is applied when a man kills one person when he intended to kill another. For example, if a man shoots at one person with intent to kill him, and unintentionally kills another, or sets poison for one person and another drinks it and dies, it is murder with express malice of the person killed, though he is a friend.'

A somewhat fuller exposition is found at 40 Am.Jur.2d, Homicide, § 11, 'Intention to take life-of one other than deceased,' 302-303:

'The fact that the homicidal act was directed against or intended to effect the death of one other than the person killed does not relieve the slayer of criminal responsibility. With the exception of a very few courts which, in interpreting local statutes, hold that the malice necessary to constitute...

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8 cases
  • Wieland v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 1993
    ...first time that the general common law doctrine of transferred intent was recognized in Maryland was by this Court in Gladden v. State, 20 Md.App. 492, 316 A.2d 319 (1974). The Court of Appeals affirmed in Gladden v. State, 273 Md. 383, 330 A.2d 176 (1974). As the academic authorities unive......
  • Gladden v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • December 23, 1974
    ...and (g). The petitioner's conviction of murder in the first degree was affirmed by the Court of Special Appeals in Gladden v. State, 20 Md.App. 492, 316 A.2d 319 (1974). Judge Moylan, who wrote the opinion for that court, stated: 'We have no difficulty in deciding that 'transferred intent' ......
  • Evans v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • November 25, 1975
    ...murder, is now firmly established as part of the common law of Maryland. Gladden v. State, 273 Md. 383, 330 A.2d 176, aff'g, 20 Md.App. 492, 316 A.2d 319. In earlier evolutionary stages, a legal fiction or a procedural device may have been at work. It is now clearly recognized, however, tha......
  • Ward v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • January 29, 1976
    ...unharmed. Her male companion was killed in the attempt to kill her. By transferred intent that killing was murder. Gladden v. State, 20 Md.App. 492, 316 A.2d 319 (1974).3 Compare: State v. Wynn, 26 Md.App. 39, 336 A.2d 800 (1975).4 See: Erbe v. State, Court of Appeals of Maryland, filed Jan......
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