Vaise v. State

Decision Date04 May 2020
Docket NumberNo. 2205 September Term, 2018,2205 September Term, 2018
Citation227 A.3d 1154,246 Md.App. 188
Parties Matthew Stephen VAISE v. STATE of Maryland
CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland

246 Md.App. 188
227 A.3d 1154

Matthew Stephen VAISE
STATE of Maryland

No. 2205 September Term, 2018

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

May 4, 2020

Submitted by: Julia C. Schiller (Paul B. DeWolfe, Public Defender, on the brief), Baltimore, MD, for Appellant

Submitted by: Michelle M. Martin (Brian E. Frosh, Attorney General, on the brief), Baltimore, MD, for Appellee

Panel: Reed, Shaw Geter, Irma S. Raker (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.

Shaw Geter, J.

246 Md.App. 196

On January 29, 2015, the body of Stephen Vaise was discovered in his Baltimore home, lying in a pool of blood. After his death was ruled a homicide by gunshot, the State charged Stephen's son, appellant Matthew Stephen Vaise, with first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence. Following a mistrial, appellant was re-tried over twelve days before a jury in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, which convicted him of second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence, and in a bifurcated proceeding,

227 A.3d 1159

found him criminally responsible.

246 Md.App. 197

Appellant was sentenced to thirty years for the murder, consecutive to twenty years for the firearm offense, without the possibility of parole during the first five years.

Appellant presents the following questions for our review:

1. Did the trial court err in allowing the State to introduce irrelevant and prejudicial other crimes evidence?

2. Did the trial court err in denying Appellant's motion to dismiss for violation of his right to a speedy trial?

3. Did the trial court err in refusing to grant Appellant's motion for mistrial when the State allowed a portion of Appellant's statement, which was supposed to have been redacted, to be played for the jury?

Concluding there was no error or abuse of discretion, we shall affirm appellant's convictions. In doing so, we shall examine the effect of appellant's change in plea to "not criminally responsible" on his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial.


Thomas Vaise ("Thomas"),1 who lived at 203 Riverview Road, Brooklyn Park, in Anne Arundel County, was close to his brother Stephen, whose only child was appellant. According to Thomas, approximately three weeks before January 29, 2015, Stephen brought appellant to Thomas' house. Stephen was upset and asked Thomas to let his son stay there overnight while Stephen was at work. Stephen explained that he was worried about appellant, who lived with him, because there were "some people" who were "after" appellant. While Stephen and Thomas were talking, appellant went into the basement and got a beer from the supply Stephen left at his brother's house. Thomas, who does not drink, refused to let appellant stay because he was already drinking alcohol.

246 Md.App. 198

At 3:33 p.m. on January 29, Baltimore City Police Officer Anthony Hargrove went to 4403 Prudence Street, in Baltimore, to conduct a well-being check for Stephen. This visit was prompted by a call from Stephen's employer, who reported that, uncharacteristically, he had not been to work for two days. The doors of the house were locked, and nothing looked abnormal about the residence.

A short time later that day, around 4:30 p.m., Thomas returned to his house from work, to find his front door open. When he entered, appellant was sitting in a chair, drinking a beer. Appellant wondered where his father was, saying he had not seen him for the past three days. When Thomas asked how appellant, who had not been given a key, got into his house, appellant answered that he came in through the open cellar door. After Thomas found the molding along that door broken, he called the Anne Arundel County Police.

At 5:40 p.m., Corporal Brian Daughters2 arrived at Thomas' home to investigate a possible burglary. Thomas showed him the cellar door and explained the circumstances in which he found appellant.3

Appellant told Daughters that he came to his uncle's house looking for his father, whom he had been unable to contact. Appellant explained that he last saw his father

227 A.3d 1160

around 9:00 p.m. on Monday, January 26, when he left his house following an argument between the two. When asked whether he contacted Baltimore City police, appellant claimed he did, but he was treated like he was crazy. Appellant did not trust the Baltimore City Police, and believed federal authorities should investigate.

Thomas then reported that he had just received two voice-mail messages from Stephen's employer stating that Stephen had not shown up for work, which was inconsistent with Stephen's record. Daughters requested an evidence collection

246 Md.App. 199

unit at Thomas' residence to process the scene at Thomas' house while he drove appellant to Stephen's house in an effort to contact him. While driving to Stephen's residence, appellant told the officer that he had left his house key inside. Appellant claimed that when he returned to the house at 9:00 a.m. the morning after he and his father argued, he saw Stephen's car, but no one answered the door.

Stephen's red sedan was still parked at the house, covered in snow. While appellant waited in the police vehicle, Daughters checked outside the residence. Both front and back doors were locked, and there were no indications of a break-in.

When Daughters asked appellant whether someone else had a key, appellant suggested that his father's friend might have one. Around 6:40 p.m., they retrieved a key from that individual. During that encounter, appellant told his father's friend that he spent the last two evenings at Bloody Pond4 , an undeveloped area popular for recreational off-roading vehicles.

Returning to Stephen and appellant's residence at 7:06 p.m., Corporal Daughters opened the back door and saw Stephen Vaise's body lying on the floor in the doorway between the kitchen and living room. A large pool of blood under his head had begun to coagulate, and the body was cold. He suffered seven gunshot wounds to his head and chest. In the living room were eight cartridge casings and one metal fragment.

The victim had bags of groceries in his hands and was surrounded by a lot of things, including a machete, a hammer, and five bullet shell casings. Police concluded that the machete, hammer, and casings were placed at the scene by the killer.

Police also found a note signed by appellant, dated January 26, 2015, stating: "This man is a crook who steals people's identities and murders people. He has associations with various LEAs and RICO with mafia ties." With the note was a business card for a private detective named Roland Miller. In

246 Md.App. 200

addition, the electrical power for the house was turned off. The State later argued to the jury that "the crime scene's manipulated" and that appellant was the person who "would do that[.]"

At 12:34 a.m. on January 30, 2015, Detective Martin Young interviewed appellant following his waiver of rights. Over the course of seven hours, appellant stated he had valuable information for police but needed assurances of protection before disclosing it. According to appellant, he expected hundreds of people to be arrested and convicted based on what he knew.

Appellant had not seen his father in three or four days, since Monday, January 26th, around 9:00 or 10:00 p.m., when Stephen locked the door behind him. Since then, appellant had been spending his nights at Bloody Pond.

227 A.3d 1161

After calling his father's work and learning that he did not show up, appellant believed his father was murdered. Appellant called the Anne Arundel County Police to make a report and made inquiries about where his father could be on Tuesday and Wednesday; he also made a couple of trips to the house, but no one answered the door.

Appellant told the detective that at the time his father was killed, he had been researching Roland Miller, who appellant initially described as a person who stole identities and murdered people. Later, appellant claimed that Miller was an investigator for the Office of the Public Defender who kept contacting him to get people "off the hook." According to appellant, he believed his father was safe from the consequences of the research appellant was doing as long as he stayed away.

Appellant also identified James Lee Reid5 as a person who raped him, falsely accused him of being a federal agent, stole identities, ripped off credit cards, and was involved with drug dealers. Appellant accused Reid or his associates of killing his father to steal his credit information.

246 Md.App. 201

Appellant related that on January 3, 2015, he and his father bought a rifle from Christopher Penvose because they were scared and wanted the weapon for their...

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    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 2 Julio 2021
    ... ... " Vaise v. State , 246 Md. App. 188, 207, 227 A.3d 1154 (2020), cert. denied , 471 Md. 86, 238 A.3d 276 (2020) (quoting Darling v. State , 232 Md. App. 430, 462, 158 A.3d 1065 (2017) ). In Vaise , we reiterated the three-part test for admission of other crimes evidence: First, the court must ... ...
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    ... ... We make our own independent constitutional analysis when reviewing the denial of a motion to dismiss for lack of a speedy trial. Vaise v. State , 246 Md. App. 188, 216, 227 A.3d 1154 (2020). "We perform 236 A.3d 708 a de novo constitutional appraisal in light of the particular facts of the case at hand; in so doing, we accept a lower court's findings of fact unless clearly erroneous." Glover v. State , 368 Md. 211, 221, 792 ... ...
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