Robinson v. State

Decision Date21 December 2012
Docket NumberNo. 2332,Sept. Term, 2011.,2332
PartiesMichael ROBINSON, Jr. v. STATE of Maryland.
CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland

209 Md.App. 174
58 A.3d 514

Michael ROBINSON, Jr.
STATE of Maryland.

No. 2332, Sept. Term, 2011.

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

Dec. 21, 2012.

[58 A.3d 517]

George Harper, Upper Marlboro, MD, for appellant.

Sarah Page Pritzlaff (Douglas F. Gansler, Atty. Gen., on the brief) Baltimore, MD, for appellee.



[209 Md.App. 179]A jury sitting in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County convicted appellant, Michael Robinson, of second-degree assault. The court sentenced appellant to five years, with all but one year suspended, to be served on county home detention.

[209 Md.App. 180]Appellant presents multiple questions for our review,1 which we have reorganized and rephrased slightly:

1. Did the circuit court err in denying appellant's request for a hearing on his motion to dismiss for vindictive prosecution?

2. Did the circuit court err in denying appellant's motion to dismiss the charges based on the State's failure to file a bill of particulars?

3. Was the evidence sufficient to support appellant's conviction for second degree assault?

4. Did the circuit court err in giving jury instructions on both intentional and reckless conduct?

5. Did the circuit court err in refusing to give appellant's requested jury instruction on defense of others?

For the reasons set forth below, we shall affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

[58 A.3d 518]


On April 22, 2010, appellant visited Club Elite, a night club in Prince George's County, Maryland, to celebrate the birthday of his friend, Patrick Young. He arrived between 11:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. Approximately half an hour later, he noticed security guards removing Mr. Young and Stanley Fields, another one of his friends, from the club. Appellant followed Mr. Young and Mr. Fields outside, and he saw them engaged in a verbal dispute with several other men in the parking lot. After one of the men threw a punch, the dispute escalated into a fistfight.

[209 Md.App. 181]Deputy Alvin Lide, a member of the Prince George's County Sheriff's Office, was working as a security guard at Club Elite that evening. Deputy Lide began his career in law enforcement in 1996, and he had worked part-time at Club Elite since approximately 1997. After the fight broke out, he and Deputy Ecolia Moore,2 another member of the Prince George's County Sheriff's Office who provided security at Club Elite, closed down the club, and attempted to break up the fight. Appellant hit Deputy Lide with his car while Deputy Lide was attempting to break up the fight in the parking lot.

The State initially filed criminal charges against appellant as a result of the incident, but these charges were nol prossed on July 19, 2010. On August 12, 2010, the State again charged appellant with second degree assault, attempted second degree assault of a law enforcement officer, and reckless endangerment. Appellant's first trial, which ended in a mistrial, began on July 11, 2011. On October 13, 2011, the trial that is the subject of this appeal began.

The State called two witnesses: Deputy Lide and Deputy Moore. Deputy Lide testified that, as people were exiting the club that night, he and Deputy Moore stood outside with their backs to the parking lot.3 Deputy Lide heard someone behind him yelling “officer, officer, fight.” As he turned around to look, he saw a crowd of people gathered. He walked to where he could see past the crowd, and he saw Mr. Fields lying on the ground with “about four or five people jumping up and down on him, stomping on him.” Deputy Lide and Deputy Moore ran to the middle of the parking lot, at which point all but one of the people attacking Mr. Fields ran away. Deputy Lide struck the remaining assailant with his baton.

[209 Md.App. 182]The assailant started to run away, and Deputy Lide pursued him. During the chase, Deputy Lide heard a car coming from behind him. He heard the sound of the car's engine revving, and “[i]t kept getting louder and louder and it was coming faster.” Deputy Moore, who was standing nearby, testified that she saw the car pass by her and turn toward Deputy Lide and the assailant, “coming really fast” and she saw people around the car “getting out of the way or at least attempting to.” As the car approached, she screamed for the driver to stop. Deputy Lide turned around, at which point the car swerved toward him and struck him, throwing him into the air and knocking his baton, radio, and phone off his person and to the ground. Prior to impact, Deputy Lide saw the driver of the vehicle, who he identified as appellant.

[58 A.3d 519]

While Deputy Lide was in the air following the impact, Deputy Moore started shooting at the car. Deputy Lide also fired three shots at appellant after he landed back on his feet. As he was firing, he saw appellant duck down, and at that point, he stopped shooting. Appellant then sat up, put the car in reverse, and backed up as far as he could given other cars parked behind him. Deputy Moore fired another shot at appellant as he was backing up the car.

Deputy Lide suffered from a torn rotator cuff as a result of appellant's car hitting him. Because he had discharged his gun, he was subjected to an internal investigation. At the conclusion of the investigation, Deputy Lide remained in his position.

After Deputy Lide and Deputy Moore testified, the State rested its case. Appellant moved for judgment of acquittal. He argued that “the State has failed to produce a prima facie case .... all that the State has shown is that [appellant] was shot after a case of automobile negligence.” The Court denied the motion, stating “[t]he case is a prima facie case.”

Appellant then presented his defense. In addition to his own testimony, described below, appellant presented four witnesses. Two of appellant's friends, William Cunningham and Mr. Young, testified that they saw Deputy Lide and [209 Md.App. 183]Deputy Moore shooting at appellant as he drove his car in reverse. Kevin Eaton, another friend who witnessed the events outside of Club Elite, testified that, prior to the shooting, he saw appellant's car “bobbing and weaving” through the crowd as people were running. Finally, Mr. Fields testified that, before he was attacked, appellant attempted to diffuse the situation and break up the fight.

Appellant testified that he attempted to break up the fight in the parking lot. Believing it was over, he went back in the club to check on a friend who was still inside. He found his friend and then returned outside to go to his car. On his way, he saw Mr. Young's car, with its doors open and engine running. He got out of his car, turned off his friend's vehicle, and saw the group of men attacking Mr. Fields in the parking lot. Appellant went to aid Mr. Fields and was trying to get him to get up off of the ground “because some of the guys had started running off because they said the police [were] coming.” Appellant tried to get Mr. Fields's attention, but he was unable to. He ran back to his vehicle. He planned to get Mr. Fields in the car “because [Mr. Fields] was unable to walk or even comprehend at the time.”

When appellant pulled out of the parking space, he saw a young woman attempting to avoid his car. He “turned to avoid striking her[.]” As appellant pulled up to Mr. Fields, but before he reached him, he saw someone in front of his car. He slammed on the brakes and “put the car in reverse just to back up.” At the time, he thought “wow, I almost hit this guy.” As he was backing up, shots were fired. Appellant testified that he did not intentionally swerve towards Deputy Lide, but he may have turned toward him as he sought to avoid hitting the young woman. He testified that his car did not actually hit Deputy Lide, but rather, it stopped “maybe three, four, five steps” from the officer. Appellant saw Deputy Lide attempt to get out of the way of the car by putting his hand out.

Appellant was shot seven times in the legs and torso, and he suffered permanent nerve damage from one of the wounds to [209 Md.App. 184]his legs. After his car came to a stop, Deputy Moore pulled him from the car and stood over him with her knee on his back. Deputy Moore released appellant when

[58 A.3d 520]

other officers arrived. Appellant was then taken to the hospital in an ambulance.

After the defense rested, appellant renewed his motion for judgment of acquittal. He stated that “no rational trier of fact could find [him] guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” and again argued that “all that the State has proved here today is that, for a simple act, perhaps of negligence,” appellant was “shot repeatedly.” He argued that “[t]hat does not qualify as an assault.” The court again denied his motion.

The case was submitted to the jury, and the jury found appellant guilty of second degree assault. On October 18, 2011, appellant filed a Motion for New Trial And/Or Motion to Dismiss And/Or Motion for Appropriate Relief. After the motion was denied, appellant was sentenced, and this timely appeal followed.


Vindictive Prosecution

In the circuit court, appellant filed a motion to dismiss for retaliatory prosecution, and he requested a hearing. Appellant argued that the charges against him initially had been nol prosed, and then he was recharged after he “filed a notice of intent to file suit against the police[.]” Counsel alleged that the new charges were based on a desire to retaliate for the civil suit, and he asked to call the two officers to testify to the sequence of events. The court stated that appellant could raise the argument with the jury, and it denied the motion to dismiss without an evidentiary hearing.

Appellant contends that the circuit court erred in failing to grant him a hearing on his motion to dismiss due to “vindictive, selective, and/or retaliatory prosecution.” He argues that the charges against him were improper because they [209 Md.App. 185]were motivated by his act of filing...

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