Wilson v. State, 126

CourtCourt of Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtArgued before MURPHY; MURPHY
Citation573 A.2d 831,319 Md. 530
PartiesAnthony Paul WILSON v. STATE of Maryland. ,
Docket NumberNo. 126,126
Decision Date01 September 1989

Page 530

319 Md. 530
573 A.2d 831
Anthony Paul WILSON
v.
STATE of Maryland.
No. 126, Sept. Term, 1989.
Court of Appeals of Maryland.
May 29, 1990.

[573 A.2d 832]

Page 532

Gary S. Offutt, Asst. Public Defender (Alan H. Murrell, Public Defender, on brief), Baltimore, for petitioner.

Kreg Paul Greer, Asst. Atty. Gen. (J. Joseph Curran, Jr., Atty. Gen., on brief), Baltimore, for respondent.

Argued before MURPHY, C.J., and ELDRIDGE, COLE, RODOWSKY, McAULIFFE, ADKINS and CHASANOW, JJ.

MURPHY, Chief Judge.

Anthony Paul Wilson was convicted of theft over $300 at a court trial in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County (Murphy, Joseph F., Jr.). He was sentenced to two years' imprisonment, with all but six months' suspended, and was fined $500. The judgment was affirmed by the Court of Special Appeals in an unreported opinion. We granted Wilson's certiorari petition to determine whether the purely circumstantial evidence presented against him at the trial was legally sufficient to support his conviction.

I.

Wilson was charged with stealing three rings from the closet of the upstairs master bedroom in a residence at which he was employed as a housecleaner. The rings had

Page 533

belonged to the recently deceased owner of the residence, where she had lived with her son and daughter, Robert and Kate Cumisky. She had bequeathed her entire estate in equal parts to Robert and Kate; thus, they were potential owners of the rings at the time the rings were discovered to be missing.

The State's evidence consisted solely of the testimony of Ann Welch Giraitis, the 81-year-old mother of the deceased, and Robert. Giraitis testified that she was at her daughter's residence on March 10, 1988. She had been staying there since her daughter's death two weeks earlier, helping her grandchildren settle household affairs. Giraitis's sister, Harriet Welch, was present in the house on March 10 for some part of the day. Between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. on March 10, Giraitis tried on the three rings; they were kept in a blue silk bag on top of a bureau in the closet of her daughter's master bedroom. According to Giraitis, a fourth ring "had already disappeared before." She testified that she had given her daughter one of the three rings and it was insured for between $3,000 and $5,000. Giraitis put the three rings back in the bag and left them on the bureau in the closet. Thereafter, she went downstairs, planning to ask Robert that night if she could put the rings in her safety deposit box. Giraitis sat in the downstairs playroom during the day on March 10. This room was located next to the staircase leading upstairs. The witness did not go upstairs until about 10:30 p.m., when she discovered that the rings were missing.

Giraitis testified that she remembered a man in the house on March 10 and that he cleaned downstairs in the morning and upstairs in the afternoon. She was not sure whether Wilson was that man. She recalled[573 A.2d 833] four or five people cleaning her daughter's house at an earlier time when her daughter first engaged the cleaning service. Giraitis remembered Kate coming home from school alone that day, but did not remember Robert coming home or bringing any friends with him. She said that she sat all day in a place where she could see who went upstairs. She also said that

Page 534

she did not see anyone other than the cleaning man and family members go upstairs in the residence.

Robert testified that he was home for part of March 10 and had two visitors. The first visitor did not go upstairs. The second visitor, John Koller, went upstairs to use the bathroom. According to Robert, the bathroom was next to the master bedroom where the rings were located. Robert testified that he saw Koller both enter and leave the bathroom, but that he did not watch the bathroom door during that time. He said that his sister was at school that day, and that he did not remember her coming home. He was "pretty sure" that she did not have any visitors.

Robert testified that his mother engaged the cleaning service on a regular basis for about a year and a half prior to her death. He identified Wilson as cleaning the house on March 10. He said that Wilson performed his normal duties that day. He was "pretty sure" and had a "strong recollection" that Wilson was the only cleaning person there that day, but did not want to say so unequivocally. He also recalled the cleaning service being interrupted for a week or two after his mother's death.

Wilson did not testify and presented no witnesses on his own behalf. Judge Murphy, in finding Wilson guilty, stated:

"[T]he case, of course, is entirely circumstantial. There is a possibility that Mr. Koller, when he went upstairs to go to the bathroom, stole the rings, came down, continued his visit, and then later left. There is a possibility that the granddaughter of the first State's witness brought some friends home and the friends grabbed the rings, but we know they were there between nine and ten in the morning and we know they were missing some twelve hours later.

"They were in a bag, the bag was clearly visible, but the rings themselves were not. The Defendant is the only person who would have had the unrestricted access to that room and to that bag at the time when he was

Page 535

cleaning up there when there was nobody else on the floor. He is the only person that would have had business...

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    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • 4 Junio 1992
    ...conviction. Accord Radke v. State, 52 Ala.App. 397, 293 So.2d 312 (1973), aff'd 292 Ala. 290, 293 So.2d 314 (1974); Wilson v. State, 319 Md. 530, 573 A.2d 831 (1990); Com. v. Costa, 407 Mass. 216, 552 N.E.2d 106 (1990); Com. v. Whitehead, 379 Mass. 640, 400 N.E.2d 821 (1980); and People v. ......
  • Manuel v. State
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    ...would permit a rational trier of fact to find the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Wilson v. State, 319 Md. 530, 535, 573 A.2d 831 (1990). The appellants contend that four of the witnesses were unreliable: Thomas, the informant; Tabansi, the Ibo translator; Sgt. Ri......
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    ...of the defendant's guilt of the offense charged. Wilson v. State, 261 Md. 551, 563-564, 276 A.2d 214 (1971). See Wilson v. State, 319 Md. 530, 535-536, 573 A.2d 831 (1990).For a discussion of "reasonable doubt" see Lambert v. State, 193 Md. 551, 558-561, 69 A.2d 461 (1949). See also Poole v......
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    ...State, 329 Md. 275, 281, 619 A.2d 111, 114 (1993); McMillian v. State, 325 Md. 272, 289, 600 A.2d 430, 439 (1992); Wilson v. State, 319 Md. 530, 535, 573 A.2d 831, 833 (1990). Our concern, therefore, is not whether the verdict was in accord with the weight of the evidence but rather, whethe......
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