Purnell v. State

Decision Date08 March 1966
Docket NumberNo. 36,36
Citation217 A.2d 298,241 Md. 582
PartiesJames Frederick PURNELL and William Harrison Purnell v. STATE of Maryland.
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

Wallace E. Hutton, Frederick, for appellants.

Fred Oken, Asst. Atty. Gen., Baltimore (Thomas B. Finan, Atty. Gen., Baltimore, and Robert S. Rothenhoefer, State's Atty. for Frederick County, Frederick, on the brief), for appellee.


PRESCOTT, Chief Judge.

There is little substance in this appeal. An uncle and nephew, represented by competent counsel, pled guilty in the Circuit Court for Frederick County to breaking and entering Yost's Diner. After the plea, Judge Clapp proceeded to take testimony to aid in his determination of the proper sentences to impose. During the course of this testimony, Officer Stafford of the State Police stated that appellants had confessed that they committed the crime to which they had pled guilty, and they also said that, shortly thereafter, they were interrupted in an attempt to break into a store in Brunswick by an officer; whereupon they abandoned their automobile and fled. They took a truck belonging to Richard Kline without his permission, and returned to their place of residence, Hagerstown, where the truck was abandoned. (Other evidence supported the attempt to break into the store and the abandonment of their car.) Counsel for appellants objected 'to this testimony as to any other crime other than the crime for which they are being tried,' and the court overruled the objection. The defendants did not testify, and, after a presentence investigation, which disclosed criminal records extending over long periods of time, the court imposed sentences.

The only question for our determination is whether the court committed prejudicial error in overruling the objection. Judge Clapp was not trying the defendants to decide their guilt or innocence; he was taking testimony to assist in deciding the length of their sentence. The testimony received related to defendants' actions over a period of some three hours, which included the commission of the crime to which they had pled guilty.

Appellants' entire argument is based upon a misconstruing of the language used in the opinion in Walker v. State, 186 Md. 440, 443, 47 A.2d 47, 48, which follows: 'Of course, a trial court should not consider [on the question of sentence] mere charges of which a traverser was acquitted.' (Emphasis supplied.) This statement has been sound law in Maryland for many years. Appellants contend it means that a court, in determining sentence, may not consider any conduct of an accused which amounts to the commission of a crime, unless the accused has been tried and convicted of the offense, but they cite no authority...

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19 cases
  • Huffington v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • 1 Septiembre 1984
    ...711, 89 S.Ct. 2072, 23 L.Ed.2d 656 (1969); Williams v. New York, 337 U.S. 241, 69 S.Ct. 1079, 93 L.Ed. 1337 (1949); Purnell v. State, [241 Md. 582, 217 A.2d 298 (1966) ]; Gatewood v. State, 15 Md.App. 450, 291 A.2d 688 (1972)." 267 Md. at 193-94, 297 A.2d at More recently in Logan v. State,......
  • Dillsworth v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • 1 Septiembre 1986
    ...of criminal conduct" contravenes Maryland decisional law. See Henry v. State, 273 Md. 131, 328 A.2d 293 (1974); Purnell v. State, 241 Md. 582, 217 A.2d 298 (1966); Walker v. State, 186 Md. 440, 47 A.2d 47 (1946). 4 Although Dillsworth correctly states the law, the record simply does not sup......
  • Logan v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • 11 Febrero 1981
    ...the sentence that should be imposed. (Bartholomey v. State, 267 Md. 175, 193, 297 A.2d 696, 706 (1972); see also Purnell v. State, 241 Md. 582, 585, 217 A.2d 298, 299-300 (1966); Skinker v. State, 239 Md. 234, 237, 210 A.2d 716, 717-18 (1965).) In considering what is proper punishment, it i......
  • Lodowski v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • 23 Abril 1985
    ...13 See Johnson v. State, 274 Md. 536, 540, 336 A.2d 113 (1975); Henry v. State, 273 Md. at 147-148, 328 A.2d 293; Purnell v. State, 241 Md. 582, 585, 217 A.2d 298 (1965); Farrell v. State, 213 Md. 348, 355, 131 A.2d 863 (1956); Driver v. State, 201 Md. 25, 31, 92 A.2d 570 (1952); Murphy v. ......
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