Grandison v. State

Decision Date01 September 1984
Docket NumberNos. 65,s. 65
Citation305 Md. 685,506 A.2d 580
PartiesAnthony GRANDISON v. STATE of Maryland. & 108,
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals
Nancy L. Cook, Assigned Public Defender, Washington, D.C., for appellant

Deborah K. Chasanow, Asst. Atty. Gen. (Stephen H. Sachs, Atty. Gen., on brief), Baltimore, for appellee.


COUCH, Judge.

The appellant, Anthony Grandison, Sr., was charged in Baltimore County with conspiracy to murder Scott and Cheryl Piechowicz, first degree murder of Scott Piechowicz and Susan Kennedy, and use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence. Grandison challenges the verdict of guilt and the subsequent death sentence imposed by a jury in the Circuit Court for Somerset County where he was tried on his request for removal. He raises a host

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                of grounds for reversal.   As we conclude that none of these grounds involves reversible error, we shall affirm

With respect to the underlying facts giving rise to the charges against Grandison, we recently recited them in Evans v. State, 304 Md. 487, 494-95, 499 A.2d 1261, 1264-65 (1985), and therefore shall borrow from that recitation as follows:

"According to the State's evidence, the defendant Evans and Anthony Grandison entered into an agreement whereby Evans would kill David Scott Piechowicz and his wife, Cheryl, because the couple were scheduled to testify against Grandison in a narcotics case pending in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. Evans was to receive $9,000.00 from Grandison for performing the murders.

David Scott Piechowicz and Cheryl Piechowicz were employed at the Warren House Motel in Baltimore County. On April 28, 1983, Susan Kennedy, the sister of Cheryl Piechowicz, was working in place of Cheryl at the Warren House Motel. The evidence was sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that, on April 28th, Evans went to the motel and, not knowing the Piechowiczs, shot David Scott Piechowicz and Susan Kennedy with a MAC-11 machine pistol. Nineteen bullets were fired at the victims, who died from the multiple gunshot wounds.

A two count indictment was filed against Evans and Grandison in the United States District Court. They were charged with violating the Piechowiczs' civil rights by interfering with their right to be witnesses in a judicial proceeding, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 241, and with witness tampering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512.

Subsequently the present case began with a four count indictment in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, charging Evans and Grandison each with two counts of first degree murder, one count of conspiracy to commit murder, and use of a handgun in the commission of a felony or crime of violence. Upon the defendants' requests

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for removal, Grandison's trial was transferred to the Circuit Court for Somerset County and Evans's trial was transferred to the Circuit Court for Worcester County."

Prior to the trial in the instant case, Grandison and Evans were convicted on the federal charges and sentenced to life plus ten years imprisonment. They then filed pretrial motions to dismiss the charges in their respective state cases on double jeopardy grounds. The motions were denied by the trial judges, and this Court affirmed. Evans and Grandison v. State, 301 Md. 45, 481 A.2d 1135 (1984), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 105 S.Ct. 1411, 84 L.Ed.2d 795 (1985).

Thereafter, the trial proceeded in Somerset County and Grandison was found guilty of all charges. Subsequently, a sentencing proceeding was held pursuant to Maryland Code, Art. 27, § 413, wherein the jury imposed death penalties for the two murder convictions. The trial judge also sentenced Grandison to life imprisonment for the conspiracy conviction and twenty years for the handgun violation consecutive to the life sentence. These sentences were imposed to run consecutively to the life plus ten years sentence previously imposed in the federal case.

We shall now address Grandison's arguments in turn as raised.

I Failure to Inquire into Mental Capacity of State Witness Sparrow

Grandison complains that his constitutional right of witness confrontation and cross-examination was impaired by the trial court's refusal to permit appropriate steps to be taken to determine the mental capacity and veracity of State's witness Charlene Sparrow. Vernon Evans raised the same issue in his trial in the Circuit Court for Worcester County. In Evans v. State, 304 Md. 487, 508, 499 A.2d 1261, 1272 (1985) we stated in pertinent part:

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"In determining whether a request for a mental examination should be granted, however, a trial judge should carefully balance the demonstrated necessity for a compelled examination against the existence of important countervailing considerations. In affirming the denial of a motion for a psychiatric examination of a government witness, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in United States v. Benn, 476 F.2d 1127, 1131 (D.C.Cir.1972), listed some of the factors to be considered:

'[A] psychiatric examination may seriously impinge on a witness' right to privacy; the trauma that attends the role of complainant ... is sharply increased by the indignity of a psychiatric examination; the examination itself could serve as a tool of harassment; and the impact of all these considerations may well deter the victim of ... a crime from lodging any complaint at all. Since there is no exact measure for weighing these kinds of dangers against the need for an examination, the decision must be entrusted to the sound discretion of the trial judge in light of the particular facts.'

Accord, United States v. Butler, 481 F.2d 531 (D.C.Cir.1973). See Rasnick v. State, 7 Md.App. 564, 571-572, 256 A.2d 543 (1969), cert. denied, 400 U.S. 835, 91 S.Ct. 70, 27 L.Ed.2d 67 (1970)."

What we stated in Evans is applicable here and is dispositive of the issue. Hence, the trial court did not commit reversible error.



Grandison next argues that the indictments handed down in Baltimore County are void since venue for the crimes charged did not lie in Baltimore County.

Grandison was indicted on June 30, 1983 in Baltimore County; he was ultimately tried and convicted in Somerset County pursuant to his suggestion for removal under former

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                Maryland Rule 744. 1  The appellant argues that since the acts committed constituting the crimes of accessory before the fact to murder, conspiracy, and unlawful use of a handgun in commission of a crime of violence indisputably occurred in Baltimore City, he was wrongfully indicted and prosecuted in Baltimore County

Prior to trial, Grandison moved to dismiss the conspiracy count (Count III) of the indictment on the ground that the Grand Jury for Baltimore County lacked jurisdiction. At the February 27, 1984 hearing, he amended his motion to dismiss to allege improper venue. Judge Simpkins denied the motion, relying on Lievers v. State, 3 Md.App. 597, 241 A.2d 147 (1968) and Greenwald v. State, 221 Md. 245, 157 A.2d 119, appeal dismissed, 363 U.S. 721, 80 S.Ct. 1599, 4 L.Ed.2d 1521 (1960). We hold that Judge Simpkins committed no error in denying Grandison's motion to dismiss.


This Court has held that if conspirators enter into an illegal agreement in one county and go into another county to execute or carry out their illegal plans and there commit an overt act in furtherance of their agreement, each of the conspirators may be tried in either county; evidence of an express renewal of their agreement need not be established to prosecute the conspirators in the county where the overt act was committed. Greenwald, 221 Md. at 254, 157 A.2d at 124, quoting from People v. Mather (N.Y.), 4 Wendall 229, 259, 21 Amer. Dec. 122, 147.

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The underlying rationale for this principle lies in what has been termed the "continuing nature of conspiracy;" that is, "The law considers that wherever [the conspirators] act, there they renew, or, ... continue their agreement, and this agreement is renewed or continued as to all whenever any of them does an act in furtherance of their common design." Greenwald, 221 Md. at 254, 157 A.2d at 124.

In Lievers, the Court of Special Appeals recognized the rule that a conspiracy may be prosecuted "where the illegal agreement arose, or where [the] overt act in furtherance of the agreement occurred...." 3 Md.App. at 605, 241 A.2d at 152.

Chief Judge Murphy, in writing for the Court of Special Appeals in Boddie v. State, 6 Md.App. 523, 252 A.2d 290 (1969), applied the holding of Lievers. In Boddie, the appellants were in the State of Maryland when the overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy to rob occurred. However, the illegal agreement in that case seemingly took place outside of the territorial limits of the state. Nonetheless, the court held if the evidence could sustain a finding that a conspiracy existed, the conspirators could be punished in Maryland. Boddie, 6 Md.App. at 529, 252 A.2d at 293. This rule is in accord with, and indeed follows from, decisions rendered by the Supreme Court. In Hyde v. United States, 225 U.S. 347, 32 S.Ct. 793, 56 L.Ed. 1114 (1912), the Court was considering whether venue in a conspiracy case under § 5440 Rev. Stat. (1901) properly lies in the state or district where the conspiracy was entered into or any state or district where an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy was performed. In its analysis, the Court stated "that a conspiracy is not necessarily the conception and purpose of the moment, but may be continuing." Id. at 363, 32 S.Ct. at 800, 56 L.Ed. at 1124. Moreover, wherever the conspirators act there they "renew, or perhaps, to speak more properly, they continue, their agreement, and this agreement is renewed or continued as to all whenever any one of them does an act in furtherance of their common design." Id. at...

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