Reynolds v. State

Decision Date27 August 2018
Docket NumberNo. 84,84
CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland

CRIMINAL LAW - CONSTITUTIONAL LAW - SILENCE - The Court of Appeals held that an individual's post-Miranda silence is generally inadmissible as substantive evidence. A suspect's post-arrest silence is more prejudicial than probative, and generally should not be admitted. Kosh v. State, 382 Md. 218, 230, 854 A.2d 1259, 1267 (2004). Constitutional safeguards protect an individual's desire to remain silent from being introduced as evidence of guilt.

CRIMINAL LAW - CONSTITUTIONAL LAW - IMPEACHMENT - The Court of Appeals held that inconsistent statements made to law enforcement officers after invoking Miranda protections are admissible for impeachment purposes. See Harris v. New York, 401 U.S. 222, 91 S.Ct. 643 (1971).

CRIMINAL LAW - CONSTITUTIONAL LAW - IMPEACHMENT - Where statements made to law enforcement officers are not omissions, or selective silence, those may be used for impeachment purposes if the evidence is probative. If "the impeaching material would provide valuable aid to the jury in assessing the defendant's credibility; again, 'the benefits of this process should not be lost.'" Oregon v. Hass, 420 U.S. 714, 722, 95 S.Ct. 1215, 1221 (1975). Here, Reynolds's affirmative statements were of probative impeachment value because Reynolds told arresting officers critical facts about his alibi that were directly inconsistent with his trial testimony.

Circuit Court for Montgomery County

Case No. 125040C

Barbera, C.J., Greene, Adkins, McDonald, Watts, Hotten, Getty, JJ.

Opinion by Hotten, J.

On May 29, 2014, Petitioner Clement Reynolds ("Reynolds") was indicted by the Grand Jury for Montgomery County on charges of first degree murder, conspiracy to commit first degree murder, and use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence, stemming from the killing of Wesley King on November 18, 2002. On October 20, 2014, the Circuit Court for Montgomery County held a hearing to address Reynolds's Motion to Suppress Custodial Statements, which was granted in part and denied in part. Following a seven-day jury trial commencing on January 5, 2015, Reynolds was convicted of all counts. On March 31, 2015, Reynolds was sentenced to concurrent life sentences for each of the first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder counts, and twenty years imprisonment for the use of a handgun in commission of a crime of violence, to be served consecutively. The first five years of his sentence for the use of a handgun charge was without parole, pursuant to Criminal Law ("Crim. Law") Article § 4-2041 of the Maryland Code.

Thereafter, Reynolds noted an appeal to the Court of Special Appeals, which affirmed the judgment of the trial court in an unreported opinion on November 8, 2017. Reynolds v. State, No. 0182, Sept. Term, 2015, 2017 WL 5171593 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Nov. 8, 2017), cert. granted, 457 Md. 399, 178 A.3d 1242 (2018). Reynolds now seeks this Court's review regarding whether he was "denied due process when the trial court permitted the prosecutor to question [him] about 'what he did not tell the police about hisalibi defense, even though the omissions were a result of Reynolds['s] post-arrest, post-Miranda2 invocation of silence and were not inconsistencies with his trial testimony." We answer this question in the negative and affirm the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals.


On April 14, 2014, Reynolds was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. An open warrant was issued on March 25, 2003 for "Kevin Reynolds" regarding the November 18, 2002 murder of Wesley King ("King") in Montgomery County, Maryland. King was shot and killed outside of his apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland. A warrant for Kevin Reynolds remained unserved until 2014, when it was discovered that Kevin Reynolds was using the name of Dennis Graham. Upon his arrest in New York, Reynolds was carrying a United States passport, a Connecticut driver's license, and other documents bearing the name of Dennis Graham. Although officers took Reynolds's fingerprints to ascertain whether he was the subject of the warrant, the analysis was not completed for several days. Reynolds was taken to a New York City precinct, where he was detained until Montgomery County Detectives Sean Riley and Frank Colbert arrived to interview him.

The detectives informed Reynolds that they wanted to interview him about a murder from 2002. Prior to advising Reynolds of his Miranda rights, Detective Colbert asked Reynolds his name, and he replied "Dennis Graham." Detective Colbert asked Reynolds for his date of birth, whether he was in good physical condition, whether he was sober, how far he went in high school, and whether he spoke languages other than English. The detectives told Reynolds they believed he was using an alias, which the fingerprints would soon confirm.

Detective Colbert read Reynolds his Miranda rights at 2:17 a.m. Reynolds refused to sign an Advice of Rights form, but Reynolds answered affirmatively that he understood his rights. Detective Colbert asked Reynolds whether he had ever been to Maryland, to which Reynolds replied, "I've been through Maryland." When asked whether he had heard of Montgomery County, Maryland or of a cold case homicide from 2002, Reynolds replied that he knew of the County, but not the homicide. Eventually, the detectives asked Reynolds directly whether he was Kevin Reynolds, to which he replied no. Detective Colbert then told Reynolds that "[t]here's overwhelming evidence that you murdered somebody back in November of 2012 [sic]" and that this was Reynolds's "opportunity to talk this out." Reynolds replied, "[t]here's nothing I have to say."

The suppression court ruled that everything up to this point was admissible because Reynolds had not yet invoked his right to remain silent, but found that Reynolds's last reply was a clear and unambiguous invocation of Reynolds's right to remain silent.

Despite the fact, as the suppression court found, that Reynolds asserted the right to remain silent, the police interrogation continued. Detective Colbert told Reynolds he had a "list of evidence... [a]nd it's overwhelming... [i]t's your time to speak up about this." Reynolds repeated, "[t]here's nothing I have to say. You're trying to solve a homicide and[.]" Detective Colbert interjected "our homicide is solved... I'd rather you just tell me to go to hell and get out of here." Detective Colbert asked Reynolds what country he was in during November of 2002. Reynolds responded, "November of 2002? I was probably in the Virgin Islands." Reynolds indicated that he had family there. Detective Colbert then asked Reynolds if he thought the evidence described by the detectives was enough to convict someone. Reynolds initially responded, "I don't know." When Detective Colbert added that Reynolds left the country after the homicide, Reynolds repeated, "I don't know. Nothing else to say."

Detective Colbert also engaged Reynolds in a conversation about Reynolds's life. Reynolds told Detective Colbert that he came to the United States and settled in Morris Plains, New Jersey, where he sold cars with a man named Byron Matamora. Reynolds told Detective Colbert that he resided in two other towns in New Jersey with Rose Lopez, who was his girlfriend at the time. Detective Colbert again asked, "[n]othing else you want to talk about?" Reynolds responded, "I guess not, no."

On April 30, 2014, the same detectives interviewed Reynolds in Montgomery County, Maryland. Reynolds immediately invoked his right to counsel. Notwithstanding the invocation, Detective Colbert continued to interview Reynolds.3

The Suppression Hearing

On October 20, 2014, the Circuit Court for Montgomery County held a suppression hearing to consider the statements Reynolds made during the April 14, 2014 and the April 30, 2014 interviews. Reynolds's trial counsel argued that Reynolds repeatedly invoked his right to remain silent in the April 14 interview, when he indicated that he had "nothing to say" about the murder, and that his statements following the first invocation were inadmissible because they were taken in violation of Miranda. Additionally, Reynolds asserted that Detective Colbert acted in bad faith by continuing to question Reynolds after the invocations, so the statements were inadmissible at trial for any purpose. The State averred that Reynolds never unambiguously invoked his right to remain silent, and that Detective Colbert did not act in bad faith. According to Detective Colbert, Reynolds "was trying to get me to believe his spin on the story [that he was "Graham"], and it was my job to try to get the facts out...."

The suppression court ruled that Reynolds invoked his right to remain silent the first time he stated that "[t]here's nothing I have to say[]" about the murder. The court held that a majority of the April 14 interview was in violation of Miranda, and therefore inadmissibleas substantive evidence. However, the court also determined that the statements elicited during the April 14 interview were voluntary and thus, admissible under Harris4 and Hass5 for impeachment purposes, should Reynolds elect to testify at trial. Regarding the April 30 interview, the State maintained that even if the statements were obtained in violation of Miranda, they were voluntarily made. The court ruled that the statements in the April 30 interview were involuntary and inadmissible, except for Reynolds's response to pedigree or booking questions. Ultimately, the suppression court precluded the State from introducing any statements after Reynolds's Miranda invocation in its case-in-chief. Before this Court, the State asserts that because Detective Colbert did not purposely violate Miranda, and Reynolds's statements were voluntary, the statements could be used for impeachment purposes.

The Trial

Wesley's daughter, Nickesha King ("Nickesha"),...

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