Hudson v. State

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Citation832 A.2d 834,152 Md. App. 488
Docket NumberNo. 2764 Sept. Term 2000.,2764 Sept. Term 2000.
PartiesGerard A. HUDSON v. STATE of Maryland.
Decision Date02 October 2003

832 A.2d 834
152 Md.
App. 488

Gerard A. HUDSON
STATE of Maryland

No. .

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

October 2, 2003.

832 A.2d 837
Julia Doyle Bernhardt, Assistant Public Defender (Stephen E. Harris, Public Defender on the brief), Baltimore, for appellant

Zoe Gillen White, Assistant Attorney General (J. Joseph Curran, Jr., Attorney General on the brief), Baltimore, for appellee.

Argued before MURPHY, C.J., MOYLAN, CHARLES E., JR. (Ret'd, Specially Assigned), THIEME, RAYMOND G., JR. (Ret'd, Specially Assigned), JJ.

832 A.2d 835

832 A.2d 836

Gerard A. Hudson appeals from the judgments of conviction by a Baltimore City jury on two counts charging second degree murder, and two counts of conspiracy to commit first degree murder.

By separate indictments filed in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Hudson was charged with two counts each of first degree murder, use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence, carrying a handgun, and conspiracy to commit first degree murder.1 After his convictions, he was sentenced to two consecutive terms of thirty years' imprisonment on the murder convictions and a consecutive life sentence for one conspiracy; the additional conspiracy was merged for purposes of sentencing. In his appeal, Hudson presents the following issues, which we have recast:

1. Did the trial court abuse its discretion in admitting hearsay evidence?
2. Must the convictions for conspiracy to commit murder be reversed in view of the jury's inconsistent finding of guilt for second degree murder?
3. Did the trial court's denial of the defense motion for a mistrial constitute an abuse of discretion?
4. Was the evidence sufficient to support the convictions for second degree murder and conspiracy?

We shall affirm the convictions.


The appellant's prosecution emanated from the murders of Al Duante "Dante" Brown and Clarence "Pops" Miller on December 30, 1999, in Baltimore City. The two victims were dropped near the corner of North Avenue and Ashburton Street.

832 A.2d 838
The Murders

Catherine Lee was an eyewitness. She was Miller's fiancee, and was also acquainted with Dante Brown, who hung out for a while at Miller's house in Baltimore. Around 9:00 p.m. on December 30, Miller accompanied Lee to the "Cut Rate," a liquor store/bar, on Braddish at North Avenue. On the way they encountered Brown near North and Ashburton. When Lee entered the "Cut Rate," Miller remained outside with a friend; Brown stayed farther down the block.

After Lee left the "Cut Rate," she and Miller crossed over to North Avenue, met Brown, and the trio proceeded to walk down North Avenue back toward Ashburton. As they turned onto Ashburton, Lee happened to turn around to see an individual approaching from behind. This person, who obscured his face with a bandanna, overtook Miller and Lee and headed straight for Brown.

The stranger briefly addressed Brown, got no reply, and reached for "something" from his pants. Lee could not identify the object, but she anticipated trouble. Perhaps presaging a robbery about to occur, she began "easing back." As she started to cross Ashburton, a gunshot rang out, and she ducked behind a parked van. She claimed to be scared, because "they" were shooting. Lee saw that Miller was struggling with Brown's assailant, and heard two separate, additional volleys of gunfire.

After the shooting ended, Lee remained behind the van for a brief period. She saw a person, resembling the assailant from the back, running away from the scene. She did not recall seeing anyone else, but, she remained safely behind the van and thus did not watch all of the action.2 After this, Lee went to the police.

Admissions of Guilt

On December 31, 1999, at about 11:00 a.m., appellant arrived at the apartment of Rene Knight to visit with Knight's son. Knight, who was 43 years old at the time of her testimony, had known both appellant and his friend Pierre3 for about five years. She had been a former neighbor of appellant's on Braddish Avenue. At the time of these events, Knight lived with her daughter in a second-floor apartment located over a flat that was occupied by appellant's sister, Tamika Hudson, on Barnes Street in Baltimore.

Appellant, wearing a black bandana, approached Knight and asked whether she knew about the events of the previous evening. When Knight professed ignorance, appellant told her that he had shot someone on North and Ashburton, claiming as a reason that "his mother had been disrespected." Appellant said that he had waited until dark before shooting his victim. He also claimed that he had been accompanied by his friend "Pierre," who in turn "dealt" with the other person because

832 A.2d 839
that individual had "disrespected his grandmother." Knight unsuccessfully attempted to encourage appellant to go "talk to somebody" or turn himself in. During this conversation, Pierre Easter, who was present, maintained his silence.

After this episode, appellant went to another room to play a video game with Knight's son and son-in-law. Although appellant appeared to be upset that his mother had been insulted, he showed to Knight "no conviction, no remorse, no nothing" about the previous night's events.

Knight recalled seeing a handgun that morning in the hands of appellant's cousin, Bianca Young. She had heard what appeared to be "gunshots," and went to investigate. Appellant seemed amused when Knight inquired about them. Knight thought this weapon was a .38 caliber pistol with a brown handle and a quarter-inch barrel, and ordered that it be taken from the apartment away from "unreliable teenagers." At trial, Knight identified a .32 caliber handgun as the weapon she had seen on the 31st. This was the handgun removed from appellant's home by Detective Williams.4 Knight admitted that she had not contacted the authorities about appellant's statements.

Bianca Young, appellant's cousin, was fourteen years old at the time of her testimony. Bianca testified that appellant had admitted to her that he had gotten into an argument with a man the previous day because the latter had "disrespected [appellant's] mom," calling her a "bitch." Appellant said that he shot this person once, and that his friend Pierre Easter had shot the victim's companion, because that man was "running his mouth." Pierre Easter was present, and, according to Bianca, had blood on his coat and a cut on his head. In contrast, appellant had no blood on his clothes and no apparent injuries. The pair displayed a black handgun. Bianca identified this handgun as the same weapon recovered from appellant's home and also identified by Knight. Bianca noticed that both appellant and Pierre had bandannas.

Eva Coleman is Dante Brown's mother. She admitted that her son was a cocaine addict, and that he would often entrust her with money from his paycheck so that he would not spend all of his earnings on drugs. On December 30, Coleman accompanied Brown to pick up his paycheck, and then took him to the bank to deposit all but $40. Concerning the money, she said that Brown paid money to "a guy named Little Glenn[,]" a member of the extended family, and guessed that the debt was "for drugs." She then took Brown to the vicinity of Coppin State College. She did not see him again until he returned home at 4:30 that afternoon. Coleman recalled that Brown was in a rush, and was not wearing his coat. She became concerned for his welfare; he obtained more money. She did not know what would happen to her son "out on the streets." Coleman explained that "he might get killed, stabbed. Anything could have happened to him because I knew he had a problem... a drug problem." Other than this, she could not recall anything in particular that prompted her concerns.

On cross-examination, Coleman responded in the affirmative when questioned whether she had a "lot of concerns about

832 A.2d 840
[Brown's] safety generally ... because he was a drug user and he was out running the streets[.]" She then agreed with trial counsel's question that, "... because he was a drug user, he would have debts to drug dealers...."

The Investigation

Police investigations brought them to appellant's home on January 5, 2000. Appellant, 16 years old at the time of the homicides, lived with his mother, Mattie Hudson, at 1906 Braddish Avenue. On that date, a number of plainclothes officers, including Detective Antoine Williams, were cruising in an unmarked sedan near appellant's home. They encountered appellant on the street, and one of the officers conducted what Detective Williams described as a "field interview."5 As a result of this, the officers proceeded to appellant's house, where they were met by his mother, from whom they obtained permission to search appellant's bedroom. Detective Williams located a loaded Burgo.32 caliber revolver from under a mattress in what was thought to be Gerard Hudson's room.

Appellant was interviewed by police on March 10, 2000, and provided a recorded statement that was played at trial.6 He told officers that on the night of the 30th, he was sitting in his brother's bedroom when Pierre Easter "came in there and he asked me let him hold the gun." He had told Easter where it was kept. Easter explained to appellant that someone had insulted his grandmother. According to appellant, Easter "grabbed the gun from under the mattress and he put this black scarf on his face and went downstairs and came outside." Appellant said that he then went outside, walked to the corner, saw that Easter was down at Ashburton, "and [saw that] he [Easter] raised the gun up to the man ... and he fired one shot." Appellant went home, then returned to the street, heard three more shots, then went toward Ashburton "to see who—Pierre before he fired the three, the other three shots the man was tussling." Appellant said that as the last three shots were fired he "got to the corner[.]" Both Easter and appellant then ran back to appellant's home....

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