Quinones v. State, No. 1370

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtBAIR
Citation215 Md.App. 1,79 A.3d 381
PartiesWillie QUINONES v. STATE of Maryland.
Decision Date05 November 2013
Docket NumberNo. 1370,Sept. Term, 2012.

215 Md.App. 1
79 A.3d 381

Willie QUINONES
v.
STATE of Maryland.

No. 1370, Sept. Term, 2012.

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

Nov. 5, 2013.


[79 A.3d 382]


Bradford C. Peabody (Paul DeWolfe, on the brief), Baltimore, MD, for Appellant.

James E. Williams (Douglas Gansler, Atty. Gen., on the brief), Baltimore, MD, for Appellee.


Panel: WOODWARD, ZARNOCH, GARY E. BAIR (Specially Assigned), JJ.

BAIR, J.

[215 Md.App. 3]Appellant, Willie Quinones, and his original co-defendant, Quentin Milner, were charged in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County with armed robbery and related offenses, and were jointly tried by a jury. Just as that trial was coming [215 Md.App. 4]to a close (after the jury was instructed, but before closing arguments), however, the State abruptly decided to enter a nolle prosequi on all charges relating to co-defendant Milner. This unusual development led to supplemental jury instructions and to a protracted discussion concerning the propriety of Appellant's closing arguments in light of the fact that Milner was no longer in the picture. Ultimately, the trial court declared a mistrial over defense objection during closing arguments. The defense subsequently moved to dismiss the charges on double jeopardy grounds. The motion was denied after a hearing.

This interlocutory appeal followed. Unsurprisingly, Appellant presents a single question for our review, which we have rephrased:

Did the trial court abuse its discretion in finding manifest necessity to declare a mistrial and, as a result, err in denying Appellant's motion to dismiss the charges?

For the reasons that follow, we shall affirm the circuit court's judgment.

Facts and Procedural History

On August 3, 2011, in the 900 block of Arbor Park Place in Prince George's County, three men in a black Cadillac SUV robbed and assaulted Deondre Stephens,

[79 A.3d 383]

Edward Williams, Christopher Bosompen, and Phillip Smith. Specifically, two male suspects jumped out of the Cadillac and demanded the victims' property. At least one of the suspects had a gun and used it to strike victims Smith and Williams while robbing them of their cell phones, wallets, and cash. The suspects then jumped back into the Cadillac and fled. The victim Stephens remembered that the last four digits on the Cadillac's Maryland license tag were “9045.” Initially, Stephens reported that the suspects were unknown to him, but later told police that one of the suspects who exited the Cadillac was someone he thought he knew as “Willie.” A trace of the black Cadillac SUV and partial Maryland license tag number of “9045” led to the registered owner, Quentin Milner, a known associate of Appellant, Willie Quinones.

[215 Md.App. 5]The victims positively identified Milner and Quinones in a photo array. Williams identified Milner as one of the two suspects who exited the vehicle armed with a handgun and demanded the victims' property. Stephens, Bosompen, and Smith positively identified Quinones as the second suspect. On September 13, 2011, Quinones and Milner were indicted in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County on charges of armed robbery and related offenses. A joint jury trial was held on March 19 and 20, 2012. In its opening statement, the State provided the jury the following summary of its theory of the case:

[T]his case is about team work.... Now, a team has a uniform goal. Now, to achieve that uniform goal there's a unity of effort by each person whose [sic] a part of that team.... In the case before you the team consisted of Quentin Milner, Willie Quinones and an unknown person. And on August 3, 2011, Phillip Smith, Edward Williams, Deondre Stephens, and Christopher B[o]sompen were walking down the street in Bowie, Prince George's County, Maryland. As they were walking down the street, they saw a black Cadillac pull down the street. Down to the end of the cul-de-sac, turn around and park. Two people jumped out of that car. One of them was Willie Quinones. He had a handgun, and he took that gun and he struck two people. He first struck Phillip Smith in the head, cutting his face. At the same time they were saying “give that shit up.”

They then moved to Edward Williams and said, “give that shit up.” Edward Williams froze. They struck Edward Williams in the head with the gun. At that time Christopher Bosompen and Deondre Stephens complied and gave what they had. Willie Quinones and Quentin Milner then jumped back into a black SUV and fled the area. But little known to them Deondre Stephens recognized Willie Quinones. He has known him for years.

At that point he looked, he got a partial tag. 9–0–4–5 of that black SUV. They immediately ran to a neighbor who happened to be sitting in his driveway when the robbery occurred who called 911. And in telling the neighbor, as [215 Md.App. 6]well as on the 911 call, “it's Willie. It's Willie. It's Willie.” He recognized him.

At that point when the police department arrived, they gave the police department the partial tag of 9–0–4–5, and when they ran it, a black SUV popped up as one of the possible hits. And it came back to Quentin Milner, a known associate of Willie Quinones. They were—both defendants were placed in photo arrays, and identified by—Willie Quinones was obviously identified by Deondre Stephens. He was identified by Christopher Bosompen. And Quentin

[79 A.3d 384]

Milner was identified by Edward Williams.

The first witness called by the State was one of the victims, Deondre Stephens. Stephens testified that one of the suspects was waving a gun and used the gun to assault Williams and Smith. In court, Stephens identified Quinones as the gun-wielding robber who assaulted Williams and Smith. Furthermore, Stephens testified that he had known Quinones for more than five years, that Quinones was a friend of his brother, and that he knew him from the neighborhood. On cross-examination, Stephens testified that he told the police about “Willie” verbally, but conceded that his handwritten statement at the police station did not mention him. Stephens also testified on cross-examination that his handwritten statement indicated that one of the suspects, not Quinones, was wearing an L.A. Kings hat. Finally, Stephens testified that he was unable to identify anyone other than Quinones in the photo array at the police station and was similarly unable to identify the second suspect in court.

The second witness called by the State was another victim, Christopher Bosompen. Bosompen testified that both suspects who exited the Cadillac had guns, that the two suspects looked very different from each other, and that only one of the suspects had tattoos on his arms. According to Bosompen's testimony, Quinones was the man who got out of the passenger side door of the Cadillac, weighed about 220 pounds, was wearing an L.A. Kings hat, and was the only suspect who struck the victims.

[215 Md.App. 7]The State's next witness was a third victim, Edward Williams. Williams testified that only the passenger had a gun, and that it was the passenger who struck him in the head with the gun. Williams testified that he saw tattoos on the passenger's arms. In court, Williams was unable to positively identify Quinones as his assailant. On cross-examination, Williams conceded that his written statement to the police said that the only suspect with a gun was the driver. Williams testified that he had been tired at the time and wrote driver instead of passenger.

On the second day of trial, Quinones and Milner were ordered to display their arms to the jury. The parties agreed that both of the defendants had tattoos on their arms. Thereafter, subsequent to the jury instructions and immediately before closing arguments, the State made the following statement, in the absence of the jury, concerning the case against co-defendant Milner:

Your Honor, in this case the State will enter this case nolle prosequi for the following reasons. After the jury instructions were read and the defendants were being taken out of the courtroom, the victims immediately approached me and said they need to speak with me urgently. They said based on the height of the defendant, Quentin Milner, they believe that he was not the second defendant at the crime scene. They said the second person was at least anywhere from six feet to six foot one. Almost as tall as one of the victims, Christopher Bosompen whose [sic] approximately 6'3?.

During the lunch break, I spoke with them extensively. They were adamant. Based on the height they kept—their story did not change as to the height. They also stated that although they could not identify that second defendant by face, they could identify him—well, they could give a description of him. And the description that they gave me is inconsistent with the present height of Defendant Milner so, therefore, based on that, the State has no choice, but to

[79 A.3d 385]

enter that case nolle prosequi because ethically we do not have enough evidence to move forward based on those statements against Quentin Milner.

[215 Md.App. 8]The trial court accepted this disposition and co-defendant Milner was taken out of the courtroom. At a subsequent bench conference, trial counsel for Appellant informed the Court that he had advised Appellant of his right to request a mistrial and that Appellant desired to go forward with the trial. The court acknowledged Appellant's decision and noted:

Now, it's a strange situation because I would have granted you the mistrial, because of the way the whole trial went. But you're saying that your client doesn't want a mistrial. So now we have to find a way to remedy that if he wants to go forward and have this jury deliberate on his charges. That's the only option I have at this point with that decision.

After further discussion, the following colloquy ensued with regard to supplemental jury instructions:

[DEFENSE]: I'm just trying to think if there's any other curative instructions that I might ask for.

THE COURT: You're going to...

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18 practice notes
  • State v. Hart, No. 74, Sept. Term, 2015
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • August 19, 2016
    ...circumstances of each case, explore reasonable alternatives, and determine that no reasonable alternative exists.” Quinones v. State , 215 Md.App. 1, 17, 79 A.3d 381, 390 (2013) (citing Hubbard , 395 Md. at 92, 909 A.2d at 281 ). “Thus, after jeopardy attaches, retrial is barred if a mistri......
  • Vaise v. State, No. 2205 September Term, 2018
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • May 4, 2020
    ...circumstances, when "the bell cannot be unrung"—will measures short of a mistrial be an inadequate remedy. See, e.g., Quinones v. State , 215 Md. App. 1, 23-24, 79 A.3d 381 (2013) ("We agree with the State's ‘bell cannot be unrung’ argument, which is in line with the holding of the Court of......
  • State v. Hart, No. 74
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • August 19, 2016
    ...and circumstances of each case, explore reasonable alternatives, and determine that no reasonable alternative exists." Quinones v. State, 215 Md. App. 1, 17, 79 A.3d 381, 390 (2013) (citing Hubbard, 395 Md. at 92, 909 A.2d at 281). "Thus, after jeopardy attaches, retrial is barred if a mist......
  • Vaise v. State, No. 2205
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • May 4, 2020
    ...circumstances, when "the bell cannot be unrung"—will measures short of a mistrial be an inadequate remedy. See, e.g., Quinones v. State, 215 Md. App. 1, 23-24 (2013) ("We agree with the State's 'bell cannot be unrung' argument, which is in line with the holding of the Court of Appeals . . .......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
18 cases
  • State v. Hart, No. 74, Sept. Term, 2015
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • August 19, 2016
    ...circumstances of each case, explore reasonable alternatives, and determine that no reasonable alternative exists.” Quinones v. State , 215 Md.App. 1, 17, 79 A.3d 381, 390 (2013) (citing Hubbard , 395 Md. at 92, 909 A.2d at 281 ). “Thus, after jeopardy attaches, retrial is barred if a mistri......
  • Vaise v. State, No. 2205 September Term, 2018
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • May 4, 2020
    ...when "the bell cannot be unrung"—will measures short of a mistrial be an inadequate remedy. See, e.g., Quinones v. State , 215 Md. App. 1, 23-24, 79 A.3d 381 (2013) ("We agree with the State's ‘bell cannot be unrung’ argument, which is in line with the holding of the Court of......
  • State v. Hart, No. 74
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • August 19, 2016
    ...of each case, explore reasonable alternatives, and determine that no reasonable alternative exists." Quinones v. State, 215 Md. App. 1, 17, 79 A.3d 381, 390 (2013) (citing Hubbard, 395 Md. at 92, 909 A.2d at 281). "Thus, after jeopardy attaches, retrial is barred if a mistrial is ......
  • Vaise v. State, No. 2205
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • May 4, 2020
    ...when "the bell cannot be unrung"—will measures short of a mistrial be an inadequate remedy. See, e.g., Quinones v. State, 215 Md. App. 1, 23-24 (2013) ("We agree with the State's 'bell cannot be unrung' argument, which is in line with the holding of the Court of Appeals . . .......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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