Wilson v. State

Decision Date30 March 2016
Docket NumberNo. 0960,0960
CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland


**Zarnoch, Leahy, Rodowsky, Lawrence F. (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ.

Opinion by Leahy, J.

**Zarnoch, Robert A., J., participated in the hearing and conference of this case while an active member of this Court; he participated in the adoption of this opinion as a retired, specially assigned member of this Court.

*This is an unreported opinion, and it may not be cited in any paper, brief, motion, or other document filed in this Court or any other Maryland Court as either precedent within the rule of stare decisis or as persuasive authority. Md. Rule 1-104.

In another gang-related shooting, on July 23, 2013, Hasaan Wilson ("Appellant") shot Antoine Pierce, a high-ranking member of the Bloods gang who had recently stripped Wilson of his Bloods gang colors. The shooting took place outside an apartment complex off of Regency Parkway in Prince George's County, Maryland, where Pierce was standing at the time along with friend, Dionna Branch.

Wilson was indicted and charged with attempted first degree murder of Mr. Pierce and related charges, as well as first degree assault of Ms. Branch. He was tried before a jury in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Maryland, on April 22 and 23, 2014. The jury convicted Wilson of attempted second degree murder, first and second degree assault, use of a handgun in commission of a crime of violence, and illegal possession of a regulated firearm. In this timely appeal, Wilson presents the following questions for our review:

I. Did the trial court err when it permitted an officer to testify to what the victim told him about the events leading up to the shooting, when the victim's statement was inadmissible hearsay?
II. Did the trial court abuse its discretion when it permitted Corporal Jordan Swonger to testify as an expert witness in the field of cellular phone technology and mapping, when Corporal Swonger was not qualified as an expert?
III. Did the trial court err when it permitted Corporal Swonger to testify that his work had been peer reviewed, when such testimony amounted to inadmissible hearsay that had the effect of improperly bolstering the corporal's opinion?

For the following reasons, we shall affirm.


During Wilson's trial, Antoine Pierce testified that he had been a member of the Bloods since he was born because his father was a member. His rank was an "Original Gangster," ("OG"), and he had held that rank for five years. In order to distinguish themselves as members of the Bloods, members wore red bandanas. Pierce testified, due to his rank, he wore a custom-made red bandana on his head, and a "flag," in his left back pocket, symbolizing his affiliation with "west coast California."

Pierce identified Wilson in the court, and explained that, the first time Pierce had met Wilson (aka "Flame") was at a bus stop at the Suitland Station. Pierce testified that he was "flagged up, meaning I was armed, meaning I had my gear on" as a member of the Bloods at the time. Wilson "roll called," Pierce, meaning he attempted to greet him as a member of the gang. Because of his rank, Pierce "G check[ed]" Wilson, trying to check his knowledge of the history of the gang. After he spoke to Wilson, Pierce spoke to another top Blood member and found out that Wilson had given false information about a subset of the Bloods, Nine Trey Gangster, which no longer existed.

Pierce crossed paths with Wilson a second time at the Imperial Gardens apartments, located off Regency Parkway in Suitland, where Pierce resided. Wilson and Pierce got into a fistfight, and Pierce explained it was due to the false information Wilson provided the first time they met. Pierce testified "I was just trying to, you know, teach him the right way." The fight ended when Pierce took Wilson's "flag," or "paperwork," meaning colors, from Wilson's right back pocket.

On July 23, 2013, around 11:00 a.m., Pierce was at the Imperial Gardens apartments in front of the residence of his friend, Dionna Branch. About thirty to forty minutes later, Pierce saw Wilson coming towards him. When Wilson got closer, Pierce said, "What's banging, Blood?" and Wilson replied "I saw you talking, bitch as [sic] nigga." Wilson then lifted his shirt and reached for a pistol. Wilson was with another unidentified man, and Pierce heard that man say "shoot that nigga."1 Wilson, standing just two feet away, then fired the gun and shot Pierce in the right arm and the chest. After he was shot the first time, Pierce tried to run, then stopped, and was shot a second time.2

Pierce first told Branch to call his fiancé. Branch asked Pierce if he wanted her to call 911, to which Pierce said no. However, Pierce changed his mind "[o]nce I see myself fading away" and Branch called 911 and the police arrived within ten minutes. Pierce was then transported to the hospital, with injuries to his back, his left arm, and his side. He recalled telling police the name of the person who shot him, and identified a photograph of Wilson as his assailant.

At trial, Pierce identified Wilson and his unidentified companion on surveillance photographs taken at the apartment complex at the time of the shooting. Pierce identified one photograph as depicting Wilson reaching for the handgun in Wilson's shirt. Another photograph depicted the moment Wilson fired the gun at Pierce. He also identified asurveillance video of the incident that included the moment when Wilson started firing at him.

Dionna Branch testified that she had known Pierce for over a year and that he was like a brother to her. Branch knew that Pierce was a member of the Bloods and also testified she knew Wilson as "Flame." She identified Wilson in court as well. Over a continuing objection, Branch testified that Wilson held himself out as a member of the Bloods by wearing a "flag," i.e., a red bandana, in his right pocket. Wilson had also told Branch he was a member of the Bloods. She said she knew that Wilson and Pierce got into a fistfight on an occasion prior to the underlying shooting, and acknowledged that Pierce took Wilson's flag during that altercation. She explained that this was a "big deal," because it conveyed "disrespect."

Branch confirmed that on July 23, 2010, at 11:00 a.m., she and Pierce were outside her apartment building on Regency Parkway when Wilson approached them. Wilson, who was with an unknown individual, said "what's up you fuck ass nigga," and Pierce replied "I don't have time for that shit." Branch testified she reminded Wilson that there were surveillance cameras nearby, and she also testified that the unknown individual "[j]ust told him not to."

When Wilson was about a foot away from Pierce, Branch saw Wilson reach for a black handgun from his waistband and then shoot Pierce. After Branch and Pierce ran back into the building, Branch called the police and told them, during that call, that "Flame" was the shooter. Branch identified Wilson's photograph in a photo array and also told police that Wilson shot Pierce.

Like Pierce, Branch also identified Wilson in surveillance photographs taken at around the time of the shooting. She testified that one photograph showed Wilson reaching for his gun, and that another showed him shooting Pierce.

Detective Darryl Wormouth of the Prince George's County Police Department responded to the scene of the shooting. As he approached the apartment building where the shooting occurred, he saw gunshot holes through the glass in the front of the building. Opening the door, Wormouth saw blood all over the floor near the entrance. Then Pierce approached him with blood on his front and back, and on his hands. Detective Wormouth observed an apparent gunshot wound, center mass, in the Wilson's torso area. Wormouth testified that Pierce's demeanor at this point was "[a]gitated. He was in pain. Didn't really seem to be too focused, I guess, initially."

After medical personnel arrived, Pierce was removed to an ambulance area for treatment. Detective Wormouth testified "that's where EMS personnel began to evaluate the victim in a better conducive environment to talk to him one-on-one and basically get his version of the story of what happened." Wormouth testified, over objection, that he then spoke to Pierce who told Wormouth that "Flame" shot him. Over an additional objection, Detective Wormouth testified that Pierce also told him that several months prior to the shooting, Wilson and Pierce got into a physical altercation concerning whether Wilson was actually a member of the Bloods. After Pierce stripped Wilson of his colors, the two men fought, and Pierce "whooped on the gentleman. He beat him up."

Detective Erika Person, of the Prince George's County Police, testified that Wilson was arrested on July 25, 2013, two days after the shooting. After waiving his rightspursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), Wilson agreed to make a statement. Wilson admitted that he knew Pierce as "New Orleans," and told the police that Pierce was a "bitch ass." Wilson also provided police with his cell phone number.

Detective Swonger, accepted at trial as an expert in cell phone technology, obtained cell phone records for the same cell phone number provided by Wilson during the interview. These records allowed Detective Swonger to create a report determining what cell phone tower was used whenever this particular cell phone made a call. Over objection, Detective Swonger testified that this report was peer reviewed.

As part of his investigation, Swonger analyzed four calls made by the cell phone number provided by Wilson on the day of the shooting between 10:34 a.m. and 12:53 p.m. According to the surveillance records, the shooting occurred at 11:48 a.m. on July 23. The phone call at 10:34 a.m., and a second phone call, made at 10:59 a.m., used the same cell phone tower. This tower was located approximately two miles from the scene...

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