Hutt v. State, No. 964

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtWILNER
Citation70 Md.App. 711,523 A.2d 643
PartiesWilliam Henry HUTT v. STATE of Maryland. ,
Decision Date01 September 1986
Docket NumberNo. 964

Page 711

70 Md.App. 711
523 A.2d 643
William Henry HUTT
v.
STATE of Maryland.
No. 964, Sept. Term, 1986.
Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.
April 10, 1987.

[523 A.2d 644]

Page 712

Laurie I. Mikva, Asst. Public Defender (Alan H. Murrell, Public Defender, on the brief), Baltimore, for appellant.

Richard B. Rosenblatt, Asst. Atty. Gen. (J. Joseph Curren, Jr., Atty. Gen., Baltimore, Richard D. Warren, State's Atty. for Wicomico County, Sampson G. Vincent, Asst.

Page 713

State's Atty. for Wicomico County, on the brief), Salisbury, for appellee.

Submitted before WILNER, GARRITY and ROBERT M. BELL, JJ.

WILNER, Judge.

The Circuit Court for Wicomico County, sitting without a jury, convicted appellant of three counts of daytime housebreaking and three counts of theft. These convictions rested upon a finding that, in company with one Jerry Adkins, appellant had broken into the homes of Marie Allen and Madge Mills on the afternoon of January 12, 1986; that he had broken into the home of David Blades on the afternoon of January 13; and that he had stolen certain property from each of those homes. Appellant never contested that the homes had been burglarized or that property had been taken. His defense was that he did not commit those acts.

The evidence against appellant, who was tried jointly with Mr. Adkins, consisted primarily of (1) testimony that, on January 14, 1986, he was in possession of property taken from the Allen home two days earlier, which he offered to give or sell to one Linda Jarman, (2) a statement given by appellant to the police, admitting that he had participated with Adkins in the Allen break-in, and (3) testimony and exhibits concerning shoeprints found at the Allen, Mills, and Blades properties as well as at the home of Mr. Adkins's parents, where appellant and Adkins had been seen around noon on January 13 and whose garage was broken into at about the same time. Appellant contends in this appeal that:

"I. The court below erred in admitting shoeprint evidence against appellant.

II. The evidence is insufficient to sustain appellant's convictions for daytime housebreaking of the Blades and Mills residences.

Page 714

III. The evidence was insufficient to sustain appellant's convictions for theft of property worth less than $300.00."

Finding no reversible error, we shall affirm.

(1) Shoeprint Evidence

The shoeprint evidence was a bit confusing, but essentially it was as follows. Appellant[523 A.2d 645] was arrested on January 15, 1986. At the time, he was wearing workboots, which were eventually taken from him and offered into evidence. The boots had cleated soles. Adkins was arrested a day earlier--January 14. The police recovered from his residence a tennis shoe which also was placed into evidence. It had a herringbone print.

A number of police officers investigated the three housebreakings and the garage breaking at the home of Adkins's parents; most of them described two types of shoeprints they observed in the respective vicinities--one a herringbone print and one a workboot print with a cleat-type pattern around the outer edge. Photographs and a cast were made of the prints found at the Allen home; photographs were made of the prints found at the Adkins home; and a sketch was made of prints found at the Blades home. Over appellant's objection, the cast and the photographs were admitted into evidence; the sketch (State's Exhibit 19) is marked as an exhibit, but, although there was testimony concerning it, the transcript does not reflect its actual admission.

Corporal White, of the State Police, investigated the break-ins at all four locations (the three homes and the garage of Adkins' parents). Without objection, he testified that, "from a visual inspection," the workboot-type print that he observed at the Mills property was "identical to the one which I saw up there at the Allen residence" and that "[b]ased [o]n my visual inspection," the boot-type print he observed at the Adkins garage "appeared to be identical with those I found at the Allen residence ... and similar to the bootprint that was found at the Mills residence."

Page 715

Trooper Ferguson investigated the Mills and Allen break-ins. Without objection, he testified that a herringbone footprint that he observed at the Allen residence "was the same kind of design I had seen at the [Mills] residence."

There was no evidence that the prints observed at any of these locations--either the herringbone or the cleated workboot--were unique. Nor was there any expert testimony comparing any of the photographs or the cast to the boots appellant was wearing at the time of his arrest, and therein lies appellant's first complaint. The complaint is in two parts: he contends, first, that expert testimony is required in order to establish a comparison between prints found at the scene and his shoes, and, second, that, in any event, comparison evidence is not admissible unless there is something unique about the print--something to distinguish it from prints that could be made from other shoes of the same brand or type.

We start our consideration of this complaint with the general observation that "the correspondence of footprints found in connection with a crime with the print made by the shoe of the accused, is admissible in evidence to identify the accused as the guilty person." Graham v. State, 239 Md. 521, 529, 212 A.2d 287 (1965); Palmer v. State, 10 Md.App. 152, 268 A.2d 582 (1970).

As to the first prong of appellant's argument, the general rule seems to be that expert testimony is not necessary in order to establish this correspondence--that "lay opinion" will suffice. See State v. Walker, 319 N.W.2d 414 (Minn.1982); State v. Jackson, 302 N.C. 101, 273 S.E.2d 666 (1981); D'Antignac v. State, 238 Ga. 437, 233 S.E.2d 206 (1977); Johnson v. State, 177 Ind.App. 501, 380 N.E.2d 566 (1978); State v. Drake, 298 S.W.2d 374 (Mo.1957); State v. Cullen, 591 S.W.2d 49 (Mo.App.1979); Irvin v. State, 66 So.2d 288 (Fla.1953), cert. denied 346 U.S. 927, 74 S.Ct. 316, 98 L.Ed. 419 (1954); White v. State, 375 So.2d 622 (Fla.Dist.App.1979); People v. Lomas, 92 Ill.App.3d 957, 48 Ill.Dec. 377, 416 N.E.2d 408 (1981); State v. Hairston, 60

Page 716

Ohio App.2d 220, 396 N.E.2d 773 (1977); State v. Curry, 103 Idaho 332, 647 P.2d 788 (Ct.App.1982); Annot., Footprints As Evidence, 31 A.L.R. 204 (1924); Annot., Footprints As Evidence, 35 A.L.R.2d 856, 881 et seq. (1954); 3 Wharton's Criminal Evidence § 610, at 181-82 (13th ed. 1973). We...

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9 practice notes
  • People v. Campbell, No. 71335
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • January 30, 1992
    ...alone, are seldom sufficient for identification purposes. (43 Proof of Facts 2d § 1, at 225 (1985). See Hutt v. State (1987), 70 Md.App. 711, 523 A.2d 643.) However, when shoes are worn, Page 1268 [166 Ill.Dec. 939] even for a limited period of time, the soles begin to show peculiar signs o......
  • State v. Johnson
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • July 19, 1990
    ...of a lay witness to observe. No detailed measurements, no subtle analysis or scientific determination is needed.' " Hutt v. State, 70 Md.App. 711, 523 A.2d 643, 645-46 (1987) (quoting State v. Hairston, 60 Ohio App.2d 220, 223, 396 N.E.2d 773, 775 (1977)). Defendant cites no authority that ......
  • State v. Jells, No. 89-1187
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • August 8, 1990
    ...to testify to the similarity of footprints in the field from which corn was stolen to the defendant's footprints); Hutt v. State (1987), 70 Md.App. 711, 523 A.2d 643 (expert testimony was not necessary to establish correspondence between shoe prints found at scenes of three break-ins and wo......
  • People v. Vigil, Court of Appeals No. 12CA0015
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • July 2, 2015
    ...opinion); State v. Haarala, 398 So.2d 1093, 1098–99 (La. 1981) ; State v. McInnis, 988 A.2d 994, 995–96 (Me.2010) ; Hutt v. State, 70 Md.App. 711, 523 A.2d 643, 645–47 (1987) ; State v. Walker, 319 N.W.2d 414, 417–18 (Minn.1982) ; State v. Johnson, 120 N.J. 263, 576 A.2d 834, 851 (1990) ; S......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • People v. Campbell, No. 71335
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • January 30, 1992
    ...alone, are seldom sufficient for identification purposes. (43 Proof of Facts 2d § 1, at 225 (1985). See Hutt v. State (1987), 70 Md.App. 711, 523 A.2d 643.) However, when shoes are worn, Page 1268 [166 Ill.Dec. 939] even for a limited period of time, the soles begin to show peculiar signs o......
  • State v. Johnson
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • July 19, 1990
    ...of a lay witness to observe. No detailed measurements, no subtle analysis or scientific determination is needed.' " Hutt v. State, 70 Md.App. 711, 523 A.2d 643, 645-46 (1987) (quoting State v. Hairston, 60 Ohio App.2d 220, 223, 396 N.E.2d 773, 775 (1977)). Defendant cites no authority that ......
  • State v. Jells, No. 89-1187
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • August 8, 1990
    ...to testify to the similarity of footprints in the field from which corn was stolen to the defendant's footprints); Hutt v. State (1987), 70 Md.App. 711, 523 A.2d 643 (expert testimony was not necessary to establish correspondence between shoe prints found at scenes of three break-ins and wo......
  • People v. Vigil, Court of Appeals No. 12CA0015
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • July 2, 2015
    ...opinion); State v. Haarala, 398 So.2d 1093, 1098–99 (La. 1981) ; State v. McInnis, 988 A.2d 994, 995–96 (Me.2010) ; Hutt v. State, 70 Md.App. 711, 523 A.2d 643, 645–47 (1987) ; State v. Walker, 319 N.W.2d 414, 417–18 (Minn.1982) ; State v. Johnson, 120 N.J. 263, 576 A.2d 834, 851 (1990) ; S......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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