Hassan v. State

Decision Date15 November 2019
Docket NumberNo. 374,374
CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland

Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County

Case No.: C-02-CR-17-000986


Fader, C.J., Wells, Alpert, Paul E. (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.

Opinion by Alpert, J.

*This is an unreported opinion, and it may not be cited in any paper, brief, motion, or other document filed in this Court or any other Maryland Court as either precedent within the rule of stare decisis or as persuasive authority. Md. Rule 1-104.

Appellant, Ali Ishmael Hassan, was indicted in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County and charged with attempted first and second degree murder, first and second degree assault, reckless endangerment and false imprisonment. Appellant elected a court trial and was acquitted of the murder charges but convicted on the remaining counts. He was sentenced to twenty years, with all but fifteen suspended, for first degree assault, to be followed by four years, consecutive, for false imprisonment, all suspended, with the remaining counts merged. Appellant timely appealed and asks us to address the following questions:

1. Did the circuit court err in determining that Mr. Hassan's waiver of a jury trial was voluntary?
2. Did the circuit court abuse its discretion in admitting "prior bad acts" evidence?
3. Did the circuit court err in admitting hearsay that did not fit within an exception to the rule generally excluding hearsay?
4. Is the evidence sufficient to sustain the convictions for first degree assault, reckless endangerment and false imprisonment?
5. Did the circuit court err and abuse its discretion in considering impermissible factors at sentencing?

For the following reasons, we shall affirm.


Paige Owen and appellant lived together in a one-bedroom apartment in Laurel, Maryland, and had been in a relationship, that included four children together, for approximately five years when the incident that formed the basis of this criminal case occurred at around 11:00 p.m. on the evening of March 31, 2017. While Owen remainedbehind in the bedroom of their shared apartment, appellant, who had been partying in the living room with two friends, left to go to the store. Before he left, however, appellant propped a cellphone on a shelf to record any comings or goings at the front door.

Approximately twenty minutes later, appellant returned, examined the video recording, and confronted Owen while she was alone watching television in the bedroom. Appellant claimed that the video recorded Owen having sex with some unidentified person in the living room while appellant was away. But, Owen testified the recording showed no such thing and simply was a twenty-minute recording of their empty apartment. Owen also testified that appellant showed the video to his friends, and his friends told him to "calm down" because there was no one visible in the recording.

Nevertheless, appellant became irate and started "smacking" Owen in the face and knocked her off the bed. Once she was on the floor, appellant kicked her and broke her rib. Appellant would continue to beat and berate Owen over the next eight hours, falsely claiming that she was cheating on him. The beatings included appellant grabbing Owen by the hair and punching her head with a closed fist. According to Owen's trial testimony, "I could feel my eyes like swelling and getting big" and confirmed that they eventually swelled shut.

At another point, appellant dragged Owen into the bathroom by her hair, ripped off her shirt, cut her hair off down to her scalp, and "started pouring anything in the cabinet he could find" on her, including shampoo, conditioner and bathroom cleaner. In addition, Owen testified that appellant got a piece of toilet paper from the bathroom, and then, "wiped his butt with it and put it - the whole like cotton or tissue in my mouth."

After this, appellant dragged Owen back to the bedroom, by whatever hair that remained, and started choking her. Owen testified that:

[H]e got even more mad and more mad as the time went on. Eventually he started like choking me, completely sitting on top of me, like my back to the ground, grabbing my neck where I couldn't breathe.
And it was just about literally eight hours of choking, smacking, kicking, punching just over and over again. And if I tried to fight back, I'd get hit back even harder. So, there wasn't any point.

At one point Owen threw up blood onto a piece of paper, because she did not want to soil the carpet, and appellant took that same stained paper and "rubbed it all over my face and hair." Despite this obvious distress, thirty to forty minutes later, appellant choked her again.

Owen was choked "at least four times" during the early morning hours as appellant continued to interrogate her about the purported cellphone video. On approximately three of those occasions, 6'1" appellant, weighing 250 pounds, straddled directly over top 5'3" Owen, weighing 125 pounds, and had, according to Owen, "both of his hands on my throat." Owen sustained "Indian burns" and several abrasions from where appellant placed his hands around her neck.

Furthermore, appellant squeezed harder if he did not like Owen's answers to his interrogation, or if she tried to scream for help. She agreed that, during the ordeal, she became lightheaded and started "to see black." But, she maintained that she never lost consciousness and that appellant would "let go" just before she would pass out.

Owen further testified that she cried throughout the eight hours, and that "I knew if I had put my hands up there or tried to stop something worse would just happen." Askedif she thought about running away during the assault, Owen testified "that wasn't even like a possibility at all." She also testified that "[i]f I would try to step out of the room, he could easily just step in front of me and . . . physically keep me from doing that." Further, "I didn't really have the chance" of getting away, and that "I knew there was like literally no getting - just walking away. So, I was just trying to calm him down."

Towards the end of appellant's tormenting, for some reason, appellant put Owen's head between his legs and started to shave her head. However, he finally tired and fell asleep. It was at that point that Owen was able to relax and sleep for a short while. When she woke, she managed to escape appellant's grasp as well as the apartment.

Owen testified that she had to crawl out of the apartment because "I couldn't walk. I had blood like dripping out of my mouth, and I was - my whole body was just in just like shock and pain." In addition to the injuries to her eyes, Owen sustained cuts to her lips, lacerations and bruises to her legs and neck, scrapes to her knees, a broken rib and a punctured lung. She was hospitalized for five days. She also testified that, unbeknownst to her at the time, she was four to six weeks pregnant when the assault occurred.

In response to a 911 call, Anne Arundel County Police Officer Robert Weber found Owen at the scene, "crying hysterically" and repeating, "[h]e is going to find me." Over objection, Weber testified that Owen told him that "her boyfriend [had] assaulted her." Weber also was present when Owen was treated at the hospital. According to the officer, Owen "was still crying" and "she was still extremely visibly upset." Weber then witnessed hospital employees "physically pry her eye open. When they did that, she was in extreme pain." Weber testified he knew she was in pain because "[s]he was screaming." And onceOwen's eye was pried open, Weber saw that, other than her pupil, "the entire rest of the eye was completely blood shot."

Kevin Harris, one of the responding paramedics, believed the injury to Owen's eye socket area was "life threatening." He testified, over objection, "[b]ecause the eye is so close to the brain and the brain is very susceptible to injuries. And anything - any injury that would cause that amount of swelling, indicates to me that possibly something happened to the brain." Harris also noticed marks on the left side of Owen's neck that appeared to be the outlines of four fingers.

Casey Green, a responding emergency medical technician ("EMT"), testified that Owen was the "worst . . . that I have seen a patient." Green called for an Advanced Life Support unit to respond because, upon initial contact with her, Owen might be a trauma patient. Green's report indicates that Owen had "strangulation marks on the left side of her neck" and "mas[s]ive swelling" to her right orbital eye socket, which was unable to be assessed further due to "swelling" and "bruising under eyes."

Owen's certified medical records were admitted into evidence at trial. These records show that Owen was diagnosed with the following: "Cerebral concussion; Cervical strain; Contusion of chest wall; Laceration of leg; Laceration of intraoral surface of lip; Pneumothorax, closed, traumatic; Closed fracture of orbit; Rib fracture[.]" More specifically, the pneumothorax, i.e., partial collapsed lung, was a "10% left anterior pneumothorax." Her rib fracture was a "'subtle fracture' of the 10th left rib[.]" And, hereye injury was diagnosed as an "orbital floor fracture" that did "not require surgical treatment."1

After the State rested its case-in-chief, appellant testified on his own behalf. Appellant admitted that, on the night in question, he was with his brother and his friend inside his apartment, "getting high." He smoked two or three marijuana joints, some crack cocaine, and "popped some pills" of Xanax, combined with heroin.

Asked about the recording on his cellphone, appellant claimed that the recording was not from the same evening, but was from two nights earlier. Appellant stated that, although the events of the evening in question were "a blur," he did remember "confronting her." He testified that he remembered thinking that Owen cheated on him. He also remembered Owen becoming "irate"...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT