Vaughn v. State, 031419 MDSCA, 1603-2017

Docket Nº:1603-2017
Opinion Judge:RAKER, J.
Party Name:DONTA TERRY VAUGHN v. STATE OF MARYLAND
Judge Panel:Leahy, Friedman, Raker, Irma S. (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ. Concurring Opinion by Friedman, J.
Case Date:March 14, 2019
Court:Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
 
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DONTA TERRY VAUGHN

v.

STATE OF MARYLAND

No. 1603-2017

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

March 14, 2019

Circuit Court for Baltimore City Case No. 112306019-21

Leahy, Friedman, Raker, Irma S. (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.

OPINION [*]

RAKER, J.

On January 29, 2014, a jury for the Circuit Court of Baltimore City convicted appellant Donta Terry Vaughn of first degree felony murder, false imprisonment, conspiracy to commit false imprisonment, extortion, and conspiracy to commit extortion. He appealed, and we reversed his convictions on the basis that he was advised inadequately as to his waiver of his right to counsel under Maryland Rule 4-215. Upon retrial, appellant filed and argued a pretrial motion to dismiss the felony murder charge. The court denied the motion, and appellant presents the following questions for our review, which we have rephrased: 1. Did the circuit court err in denying appellant's motion to dismiss because retrying appellant for felony murder would violate the constitutional prohibition of double jeopardy?

2. Did the circuit court err in denying appellant's motion to dismiss because retrying appellant for felony murder would deny appellant due process of law?

Finding that the circuit court did not err, we shall affirm.

I.

In February 2009, appellant and co-defendant Darryl Nichols planned and executed a kidnapping scheme for profit along with Eric Price and Sherelle Ferguson. While holding the victim, Eric Pendergrass, they collected two ransom payments totaling $40, 000. After delivery of the second payment, the police found Mr. Pendergrass's body in the Patapsco River in Baltimore, Maryland. The police arrested appellant and Nichols thereafter.

In November 2012, the State charged appellant with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, false imprisonment, conspiracy to commit false imprisonment, extortion, and conspiracy to commit extortion. On January 29, 2014, following a trial in which appellant appeared pro se, a jury for the Circuit Court of Baltimore City convicted appellant of first degree felony murder, false imprisonment, conspiracy to commit false imprisonment, extortion, and conspiracy to commit extortion, acquitting him of the remaining charges. The conviction for first degree felony murder was based on the predicate felony of extortion; without objection, the court instructed the jury that extortion could serve as the predicate for first degree felony murder.

Appellant and Nichols appealed their convictions. In an unpublished opinion, we vacated the judgments against Nichols for first degree felony murder and conspiracy to commit extortion, and we vacated his sentence for false imprisonment and remanded it for resentencing. Nichols v. State, No. 169, Sept. Term 2014 (filed Feb. 4, 2016). As to appellant, this Court held in a separate, unpublished opinion that the circuit court failed to adequately discharge its statutory obligations under Rule 4-215, which sets forth the steps a trial court must take before allowing a defendant to waive the right to an attorney and proceed pro se. We vacated appellant's convictions and remanded the case for a new trial "on all counts for which he was not acquitted." Vaughn v. State, No. 03, Sept. Term 2014 (filed Oct. 13, 2015). On remand, appellant filed and argued a pretrial motion to dismiss the charge of felony murder. The circuit court denied appellant's motion, and this interlocutory appeal followed.

II.

Before this Court, appellant advances several related arguments as to why the remanded felony murder charge should be dismissed. First, appellant argues that retrying him for felony murder violates principles of double jeopardy because he was convicted of extortion, the underlying felony for the felony murder charge. Second, appellant discusses several United State Supreme Court decisions on the...

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