Myers v. State, 2933, Sept. Term, 2018

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Citation219 A.3d 534,243 Md.App. 154
Docket NumberNo. 2933, Sept. Term, 2018,2933, Sept. Term, 2018
Parties Murray MYERS v. STATE of Maryland
Decision Date06 November 2019

243 Md.App. 154
219 A.3d 534

Murray MYERS
STATE of Maryland

No. 2933, Sept. Term, 2018

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

November 6, 2019

Argued by: Vanessa O. Omoroghomwan (Williams & Connolly, LLP, Washington, D.C. and Paul B. DeWolfe, Public Defender, Baltimore, MD), all on the brief, for Appellant.

Argued by: Zoe Gillen White (Brian E. Frosh, Attorney General on the brief), Baltimore, MD, for Appellee.

Panel: Fader, C.J., Berger, Charles E. Moylan, Jr., Senior Judge, Specially Assigned, JJ.

Moylan, J.

243 Md.App. 160
219 A.3d 538

The appellant, Murray Myers, was convicted in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City by a jury, presided over by Judge Althea M. Handy, of burglary in the second degree, conspiracy to commit second-degree burglary, and theft of more than $100 but less than $1,500.

Two Security Cameras Are Better Than One

The evidence of the appellant's complicity was straightforward. At approximately 3:44 a.m. on December 12, 2017, a burglary was committed at an animal clinic operated by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at 4007 Falls Road in Baltimore City. Not one, but two security surveillance cameras memorialized the crime. One of the cameras was located on the SPCA Clinic property itself. The second was located on the Red Fish Liquor Store, on the same side of the street as the burglarized premises but one building away.

The security camera on the SPCA Clinic building did a yeomanlike job of recording the corpus delicti but utterly failed to establish anyone's criminal agency. Initially it showed two individuals walking south on Falls Road toward the SPCA Clinic. As one of them, referred to as "Individual One," closed in on the target, the other, referred to by the State simply as the "lookout," was observed walking back and forth generally in front of the clinic. At 3:44 a.m., Individual One entered the building through a side window. A hoody, however, obscured his face. As the burglar alarm sounded, Individual One exited the clinic. Almost immediately, however, he returned to the side window, grabbed a cash register that was sitting on a desk, and fled the scene with the cash register in hand. The cash register was later determined to have been empty, but its own value was established to have been $500.

Because of the hoody covering his face, the identity of Individual One could not be established either by the SPCA Clinic manager, Amy Stormann, or by Detective William Nickles, both of whom viewed the security tape from the clinic's camera. The identity of the other individual, the "lookout,"

243 Md.App. 161

was never established. The crime might well have become an unsolved cold case, but for a stroke of good fortune. Although the security camera on the burglarized premises itself had come up short, a Good Samaritan security camera on the neighboring Red Fish Liquor Store stepped in to save the day. It was a day later as part of his follow-up investigation that Detective Nickles visited Red Fish to see if it had any surveillance footage from the night of the burglary. It had. From its more fortuitous coign of vantage, moreover, the burglar's face was visible, unhidden by the hoody. Detective Nickles, who had known the appellant for years, immediately identified Individual One as the appellant. Detective Nickles actually knew the appellant by name and was thereby able to obtain his address from the Department of Motor Vehicles. The appellant was shortly thereafter arrested and indicted.

At trial, the clinic manager testified briefly. The only other State's witness, and its key witness, was Detective Nickles. He testified that he was "[o]ne hundred percent positive that that is Mr. Murray Myers [ (the appellant) ] in that video." He explained to the jury that he possessed that level of certainty because "I've known of Mr. Murray Myers for many years being associated from the same neighborhood." Detective Nickles further explained

219 A.3d 539

that he and the appellant had numerous mutual friends.

My ex-sister-in-law, which is [the appellant's] cousin, by the name of Brenda Brown. Numerous friends from the neighborhood. We have multiple mutual Facebook friends. From being from the neighborhood, I mean, it's only obvious that we would have these mutual friends. I guess, numerous.

(Emphasis supplied). Detective Nickles also identified the appellant in court:

Q. Okay. The person you see in the video with the cash register, do you see that person in court here today?

A. I do, yes.

Q. Can you please identify him by an article of clothing?

A. Sitting at the Defense table with a black shirt and a green and black tie with a cane in his hand.
243 Md.App. 162
Q. How certain are you that that is that person?

A. I'm a hundred percent certain.

(Emphasis supplied). The appellant, moreover, was established as living at 3735 Falls Road, just under three blocks away from the burglarized premises.

In his cross-examination of Detective Nickles, the defense never really challenged the detective's ability to recognize the appellant as someone he had known for a number of years. The appellant neither took the stand nor offered any witnesses or other evidence in his defense. The jury convicted him on all counts.

The Contentions

On appeal, the appellant raises three contentions.




A Case Of Baying At The Moon

In military jargon, one would not characterize the appellant's contentions as arguments that turn square corners. He beguiles us with facts, but he never tells us where he is going with those facts.

The most serious contention is that Judge Handy committed reversible error when she denied the appellant's motion to

243 Md.App. 163

suppress a pre-trial identification of him by Detective Nickles. A hearing was held on that motion on Tuesday, September 18, 2018. The entire suppression hearing that day consumed a scant 24 pages of transcript. The oddity is that that brief hearing disposed of, sequentially, not one but two suppression motions. The first of the two denials is not now before us. It nonetheless behooves us to refer to it because it is indicative of the general slackness of the appellant's analysis of the legal issues in the case, indicative of his disinclination to turn square corners.

For all that we are told in appellate briefs or in the testimony at the suppression hearing or testimony at the trial, there was not so much as a hint that the

219 A.3d 540

search warrant the appellant tells us the police were applying for was ever actually issued by a judge. Even assuming that it was, there is not a suggestion that a search, warranted or unwarranted, was ever executed. There was no fruit of a search and seizure ever offered in evidence. It was certainly not the case that the stolen cash register was recovered from the appellant's apartment or some reference would certainly have been made of so prominent a piece of evidence. What, therefore, was this companion suppression motion all about and why was it in the case?

Inexplicably, after a mere seven pages of essentially meaningless conversation between court and counsel with respect to it, the motion to suppress physical evidence because of an ostensible Fourth Amendment violation just withered on the vine. The appellant never suggested how a Fourth Amendment violation had even occurred. Judge Handy, with some exasperation, explained that if the motion were based on the fact that an application for a warrant did not establish probable cause, the motion to suppress evidence on such a basis was denied. As attention immediately turned to the separate and pertinent issue of pre-trial identification, there was no allegation that a warrant application had ever actually been submitted to a judge, let alone that any judge had actually issued such a warrant, and let alone that a warranted search had ever been executed. The Fourth Amendment issue simply

243 Md.App. 164

evanesced, as immediately and as completely as if it had been a magician's puff of magic smoke.

We are left with the quandary of why the appellant would clutter the record with a motion to suppress physical evidence when there was no physical evidence to be suppressed. What, moreover, does the appellant suggest the sanction should be for a possibly...

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