Smith v. State, 031419 MDSCA, 1439-2017

Docket Nº:1439-2017
Opinion Judge:Eyler, Deborah S., J.
Judge Panel:Fader, Chief Judge, Nazarian, Eyler, Deborah S. (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.
Case Date:March 14, 2019
Court:Court of Special Appeals of Maryland




No. 1439-2017

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

March 14, 2019

Circuit Court for Washington County Case No. 21-K-16-52636

Fader, Chief Judge, Nazarian, Eyler, Deborah S. (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.


Eyler, Deborah S., J.

In the Circuit Court for Washington County, a jury convicted Jerry Wayne Smith, Jr., the appellant, of first-degree murder of Margaret Rose McAllister, openly wearing a dangerous weapon with intent to injure, false imprisonment of Mrs. McAllister, and theft less than $1, 000 against Gary Koontz.

Smith was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder conviction. The court also imposed sentences of 3 years for the weapons conviction, 30 years for the false imprisonment conviction, and 18 months for the theft conviction, all to be served consecutive to the sentence for murder.

On appeal, Smith poses four questions, which we have combined and reworded as follows: I. Did the trial court err by admitting certain hearsay evidence?

II. Was the evidence legally sufficient to support the convictions?1

We shall affirm the judgments of the circuit court.


Smith's trial took place in May 2017. We recite the pertinent evidence in the light most favorable to the State, as the prevailing party.

On May 19, 2016, Mrs. McAllister, age 81, was murdered in her house in Hancock, Maryland, where she lived alone. That night, sometime after Mrs. McAllister had last spoken on the phone to one of her daughters, she let her great-niece, Crystal Stanley, and Smith, Stanley's boyfriend, into her house. Stanley had called Mrs. McAllister earlier on the pretext that she wanted to stop by to discuss Stanley's grandmother, Edna Knable, who was Mrs. McAllister's sister. That was a ruse; in fact, Stanley and Smith wanted money so they could "get out of town." Both were wanted for probation violations.

Stanley and Smith arrived at Mrs. McAllister's house in a truck belonging to Mrs. Knable and her husband (Stanley's grandfather) Carl. When Stanley knocked on the door, Mrs. McAllister did not answer. Stanley called her again to say she was there, and Mrs. McAllister opened the door for Stanley and Smith. They were both wearing work gloves.

Once inside, Stanley grabbed Mrs. McAllister and held her while Smith tied her hands and arms with duct tape he had brought with him. They demanded to know where Mrs. McAllister's purse was. When she told them, Stanley got it and dumped out its contents. They took her credit cards and checks and then taped her mouth shut. Stanley went into Mrs. McAllister's bedroom and stole items of jewelry. When she returned to the living area of the house Mrs. McAllister was still alive. Stanley went outside and got in the truck because their dogs were in the truck barking. Smith was in the house alone with Mrs. McAllister for about five minutes. He returned to the truck and they drove to a campsite where they were staying to change clothes. Stanley saw blood on Smith's clothing. Smith told Stanley that he had "almost decapitated" Mrs. McAllister.

The next day, Mrs. McAllister did not answer the phone when her daughter called, so her other daughter and that daughter's husband went to her house to check on her. They found her dead body on the living room floor. The police were called and responded immediately. An autopsy revealed that Mrs. McAllister had sustained 14 stab wounds, including two that were potentially fatal: one wound to her chest that punctured her lung and one eight-inch slash to her throat so deep that it reached her backbone. It could not be determined which wound was inflicted first, but she would have died from either wound.

After pawning some jewelry and using and attempting to use Mrs. McAllister's credit cards at several stores in Hancock, Stanley and Smith drove the truck to South Carolina. Stanley discarded Smith's bloody clothes in a dumpster. The two then drove the truck to Arizona, where they pawned more jewelry and eventually were arrested. Expert witness testimony established that Mrs. McAllister's wounds were consistent with being caused by a knife that was recovered from Smith when he was arrested. Eventually Stanley plead guilty to first-degree murder. She testified as a witness for the State.

We will include additional facts as necessary to our discussion of the issues.



Hearsay Evidence

Detective Bryan Glines, of the Criminal Investigation Unit of the Washington County Sheriff's Department ("WCSD"), assisted in the investigation of Mrs. McAllister's murder and testified as a witness for the State. Early in the investigation, he learned that Stanley and Smith had been staying at a camping ground near Mrs. McAllister's home. Four days after the murder, he went to that camping ground and found a receipt for "campsite number two" that listed the renter's city and state as Needmore, Pennsylvania. The receipt recorded a tag number for the truck registered to Carl Knable that Stanley and Smith were driving. Detective Glines also found a check for $40 dollars, payable on the account of Carl and Edna Knable, made out to the National Park Service.

On direct examination, the prosecutor showed Detective Glines that check and the following ensued: [THE STATE]: Where, if you know, where was Jerry Smith residing at the time - at that time . . .

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Objection. Calls for hearsay, Your Honor.

[THE STATE]: If he knows.

THE COURT: Overruled.

[DETECTIVE GLINES]: Uh, Jerry and Crystal were residing at the address of, uh, Edna and Carl Knable, in Needmore, Pennsylvania.2

Subsequently, and without objection, Stanley testified on direct examination that in May 2016, prior to the events in question, she and Smith had been living with the Knables in Needmore, Pennsylvania.3 On cross-examination, the defense moved into evidence a portion of the videotape of Stanley's interview by the police in which she said that she and Smith had been living at the Knables' house in Needmore, Pennsylvania and had fled because they thought they were violating their probation. On redirect, the State moved into evidence a letter from the Fulton County Probation Department addressed to Stanley and Smith at the Knables' address in Needmore, Pennsylvania, which matched the address on the registration for the Knables' truck that Stanley and Smith were driving at the time of their arrest. This evidence also was admitted without objection.

Detective Howard Ward, also a member of the Criminal Investigation Unit of the WCSD who was investigating Mrs. McAllister's murder, testified that on May 20, 2016 - the day Mrs. McAllister's body was found - the police determined that voicemail fraud alerts were being left on her phone by her credit card companies. He further testified that on May 27, 2016, he performed a computer search of LeadsOnline, a national law enforcement data base of pawn transactions. The following colloquy took place: [THE STATE]: Okay. And what did you do when you accessed

[LeadsOnline]? ...

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