Hillard v. State

Citation406 A.2d 415,286 Md. 145
Decision Date05 October 1979
Docket NumberNo. 133,133
PartiesSamuel (NMN) HILLARD v. STATE of Maryland.
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

Page 145

286 Md. 145
406 A.2d 415
STATE of Maryland.
No. 133.
Court of Appeals of Maryland.
Oct. 5, 1979.

[406 A.2d 416]

Page 146

Bradford C. Peabody, Asst. Public Defender, Baltimore (Alan H. Murrell, Public Defender, Baltimore, on the brief), for appellant.

Alice G. Pinderhughes, Asst. Atty. Gen., Baltimore

Page 147

(Stephen H. Sachs, Atty. Gen., Baltimore, on the brief), for appellee.

Argued before MURPHY, C. J., and SMITH, DIGGES, ELDRIDGE, ORTH and COLE, JJ.

DIGGES, Judge.

The question posed for our consideration in this criminal cause is whether petitioner Samuel Hillard's inculpatory statement was prompted by improper police inducement, thereby rendering its admission as evidence prejudicial error, requiring the reversal of his conviction in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County for using a handgun in the commission of a felony. Md.Code (1957, 1976 Repl. Vol.), Art. 27, § 36B(d). The trial court and the Court of Special Appeals found the statement in question to have been voluntarily made and thus properly admitted; however, we conclude that longstanding precedent of this Court portends a different answer. Since we further determine that the erroneous [406 A.2d 417] admission of this evidence was prejudicial to the defendant, his conviction may not stand.

In mid-December 1977, petitioner was tried before a jury on a nine-count indictment charging him with various criminal offenses relating to an armed robbery that resulted in the wounding of Warren Womack and the death of his thirteen-year old son, Jerome Hales. At the trial presided over by Prince George's County Circuit Court Judge William H. McCullough, the evidence introduced shows that on the morning of April 8, 1977, Carroll Harrison and Russell Campbell, armed with a revolver belonging to the petitioner, entered Mr. Womack's home in Oxon Hill, Maryland, shot the owner in the course of robbing him of money and heroin, and then killed his teenage son to prevent the young man from testifying as a witness to the assault upon his father. Following this episode, the two men ran from the house, entered a car in which James Herbert and petitioner Samuel Hillard were awaiting them, and then drove to the Hillard home in southeast Washington, D. C., where the stolen heroin was divided among the four. As to his role in the robbery, in his seven-page written statement to the police, which he claims was involuntarily made, petitioner in sum admitted that when Herbert came to his home on April 8 to pick him

Page 148

up on the way to the Womack residence to buy narcotics, he gave him a pistol for Herbert's protection; however, petitioner denied he knew that either Campbell or Harrison planned to rob Womack or to shoot the father and his son.

Petitioner's contention concerning this statement brings under scrutiny the events surrounding that declaration, circumstances that were the subject of two suppression hearings. The record compiled in the circuit court at those proceedings reveals that six days after the robbery and shootings at the Womack residence, Hillard was arrested in the District of Columbia and, after waiving extradition, was transported that same day to a Prince George's County police station. There, several hours following his arrival, the statement now in question was given by Hillard. With regard to his statement, the petitioner testified at the hearings conducted to determine its voluntariness that during questioning, Prince George's County Police Detective Earl W. Jones induced him to make the remarks that were received in evidence against him by promising that he would try to secure a low bail for petitioner, that he would "go to bat" for petitioner before the court, and that ultimately petitioner would be "cut loose" if the statement he made was corroborated by any of the others involved in the robbery and slaying. Hillard attempted to bolster his assertions principally with the testimony of Ronald Tucker, Esq., his attorney, and his attorney's paralegal assistant, both of whom were present at the time the statement was made. Detective Jones, on the other hand, testified that although petitioner's attorney repeatedly sought promises of help in exchange for a statement by Hillard, he told the attorney he could do nothing for his client. The State also introduced into evidence an alleged Miranda rights waiver, signed by both the petitioner and his attorney at the time the complained of statement was made, which related that "(y)ou are further advised that you are not promised anything to make a statement and no threats or inducements have been made to compel you to make a statement."

On July 22, 1977, Prince George's County Circuit Court Judge William B. Bowie conducted a hearing on petitioner's

Page 149

initial motion to suppress but denied the relief sought without further explanation. Subsequently, petitioner's suppression request was considered at another hearing by Judge McCullough. That de novo proceeding was conducted on December 12, 1977, just prior to the selection of a jury for trial on the merits. The judge, after hearing from the parties, announced the following ruling:

Everybody seems to agree that the main thrust of all the discussions between Jones, his lawyer who was present and the defendant, was that Jones would go to bat for this defendant if what the defendant told him, number one, turned out to be true, not only would he go to [406 A.2d 418] bat indicating that the man maybe should be put on bond and not how much. . . . So what this defendant was in fact told by Jones, and I find as a fact this is what he was told, that if you are telling me the truth about your involvement in the occurrence, I will go to bat for you to the extent that I will tell the State's Attorney's office and the Court, number one, that you have cooperated, number two, you have told me the truth, and number three, I believe you were not knowledgeable as far as the murder was concerned. I don't think that makes this statement inadmissible, cut it as you may. . . .

. . . (H)e had his attorney right then and there right present on the spot. He is given time to confer with his attorney. His attorney also knows from what the defendant has told him and what Jones had told the attorney, that Jones pretty well already knows this defendant's involvement and Jones could have said at that time "I don't need your confession. We have got enough evidence without it." So I don't believe that the method by which Detective Jones secured this confession violated any constitutional rights or violated any fundamental fairness in the procuring of this confession.

Motion to suppress is denied.

Page 150

On the basis of this ruling by the court that petitioner's admissions were voluntarily made, over his objection they were received as evidence at the ensuing trial that ultimately resulted in his conviction of using a handgun in the commission of a felony. On appeal, the Court of Special Appeals, relying almost exclusively on federal authorities and decisions of courts in our sister states, found petitioner's statement was properly admitted in evidence as voluntarily made and affirmed Hillard's conviction. 1 Hillard v. State, 40 Md.App. 600, 392 A.2d 1181 (1978). We granted certiorari.

In explaining why we believe the self-incriminatory statement made by the petitioner here should not have been placed in evidence in his case, it appears wise to recall that, regardless of constitutional strictures, this Court for more than one hundred years has adhered to the tenet that, with regard to fairness in the conduct of a trial, Maryland criminal law requires no confession or other significantly incriminating remark allegedly made by an accused be used as evidence against him, unless it first be shown to be free of any coercive barnacles that may have attached by improper means to prevent the expression from being voluntary. 2 E. g.,

Page 151

State v. Kidd, 281 Md. 32, 35-36, 375 A.2d 1105, 1108, Cert. denied, 434 U.S. 1002, 98 S.Ct. 646, 54 L.Ed.2d 498 (1977); Watts v. State, 99 Md. 30, 35-36, 57 A. 542, 544 (1904); Biscoe v. State, 67 Md. 6, 7, 8 A. 571, 571 (1887); Nicholson v. State, 38 Md. 140, 153 (1873). Of equal venerability is the requirement in this State that the government shoulder the responsibility of showing affirmatively[406 A.2d 419] that the inculpatory statement was freely and voluntarily made and thus was the product of neither a promise nor a threat. E. g., State v. Kidd, supra, 281 Md. at 37, 375 A.2d at 1109; Edwards v. State, 194 Md. 387, 396, 71 A.2d 487, 491 (1950); McCleary v. State, 122 Md. 394, 399, 89 A. 1100, 1102 (1914); Watts v. State, supra, 99 Md. at 36, 57 A. at 544. Demonstrative of the importance that we have long placed upon this mandate is the imperative that the voluntary nature of a confession be twice established before it can be utilized by the trier of fact, together with any other evidence, in determining guilt or innocence initially, to the satisfaction of the trial judge, out of the hearing of the jury, as a mixed question of law and fact, and then, if the statement has been placed in evidence, by a determination of the trier of fact, be it court or jury, that beyond any reasonable doubt the confession was freely and voluntarily made. E. g., State v. Kidd, supra, 281 Md. at 37-38, 375 A.2d at 1109; Dempsey v. State, 277 Md. 134, 143-45, 355 A.2d 455, 460 (1976); Gill v. State, 265 Md. 350, 357-58, 289 A.2d 575, 579-80 (1972); Day v. State, 196 Md. 384, 399, 76 A.2d 729, 736 (1950).

In reiterating these well-established precepts, we can but agree with this Court's earlier observation that "(t)here is no difficulty in regard to (these rules, t)he trouble is in (their) application . . . to the facts of each particular case; that...

To continue reading

Request your trial
151 cases
  • Ball v. State, 75
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • February 2, 1984
    ...... He also went before the grand jury that very morning and gave sworn testimony, in the course of which he acknowledged his guilt. .         In now challenging the admissibility of his statement, the appellant Coley relies exclusively on Hillard v. State, 286 Md. 145, 406 A.2d 415 (1979), and its reiteration of preexisting Maryland law to the effect that any promise or inducement offered for the purpose of securing a confession will render that confession involuntary and inadmissible. .         Hillard v. State, supra, does, of ......
  • Wright v. State, 61
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 1984
    ...... He contends that the admission in evidence of the rescinded agreement and the incriminating statements, which were induced by the promises made by the State as its part of the bargain, violated the Maryland inducement rule set forth in cases such as Hillard v. State, 286 Md. 145, 406 A.2d 415 (1979). .         The basic facts of the case, and the particular facts concerning the first issue, are as follows. 1 Petitioners Joseph Melvin Wright and Kenneth D. Coley were each indicted on charges of murder in the first degree, attempted robbery ......
  • Rutherford v. Rutherford, 104
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • August 5, 1983
    ......the circuit court's Domestic Relations Division testified that the arrearage then due was $3,714.74, of which $2,219.44 was owed to the State of Maryland for "social service payments" made to the plaintiff and $1,495.30 was owed to the plaintiff. After the plaintiff herself testified, her ...State, 288 Md. 712, 725, 421 A.2d 957, 964 (1980); Kent v. State, 287 Md. 389, 393, 412 A.2d 1236, 1238 (1980); Hillard v. State, 286 Md. 145, 150 n. 1, 406 A.2d 415, 418 n. 1 (1979); State v. Raithel, 285 Md. 478, 484, 404 A.2d 264, 267 (1979); State v. Friedman, ......
  • State v. Broberg, 22
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 1995
    ......v. Friendship Packers, 326 Md. 152, 157, 604 A.2d 69, 71 (1992); Yarema v. Exxon Corp., 305 Md. 219, 231, 503 A.2d 239, 245 (1986); Biro v. Schombert, 285 Md. 290, 402 A.2d 71 (1979). . 11 See, e.g., Globe American v. Chung, 322 Md. 713, 716, 589 A.2d 956, 957 (1991). . 12 See, e.g., Hillard v. State, 286 Md. 145, 150 n. 1, 406 A.2d 415, 418 n. 1 (1979); State v. Raithel, 285 Md. 478, 482-487, 404 A.2d 264, 266-269 (1979). . 13 See, e.g., State v. Parker, 334 Md. 576, 584-585, 640 A.2d 1104, 1108 (1994); State v. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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