Warnken, LLC Attorneys at Law, Attorneys & Lawyers, Pikesville, MD

Thompson v. State

Thompson v. State, 412 Md. 497 (2010).

 

Petitioner, Karl Lymont Thompson, was convicted of second-degree rape and related offenses after a jury trial in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. The Petitioner filed a writ of certiorari arguing that he is entitled to a new trial on the ground that the Circuit Court erred in admitting into evidence the victim’s testimony about the “uncharged 1978 incident, which occurred when [Petitioner] was 14 years old.” Petitioner poses two questions: (1) Whether the evidence of the Petitioner’s uncharged juvenile conduct could be admitted into evidence and (2) whether amending the indictment to charge a crime that occurred in a different time-frame and location change the character of the sexual offense when multiple offenses are alleged.

 

The Court of Appeals held that evidence of the Petitioner’s uncharged juvenile conduct was admissible but that amending the indictment to include a separate crime at a different location does change the character of the sexual offense.

 

On May 10, 2005, [the victim], then thirty-one years of age, called the Baltimore City Police Department, to inform them that, beginning in 1978, when she was five years old, until 1986, when she was thirteen, she had been sexually abused by her uncle. She stated that she had never reported these incidents because she had been told that “it was too late.” At trial, the court permitted the victim to testify about five specific instances of sexual abuse. The first of the five incidents occurred in the summer of 1978, at the Lynview home, when the victim was “approximately five years old” and appellant was fourteen years old. Because of appellant’s juvenile status at that time, the State never charged appellant. The second incident took place during a school vacation in 1983, when the victim was ten years old and appellant was nineteen and an adult. The third and fourth incidents happened during the summers of 1984 and 1985 at her grandparents’ Hampstead home, when the victim was about eleven years of age and appellant was twenty. Those charges were dismissed during trial for lack of jurisdiction. The fifth incident occurred in November 1986, when the victim was thirteen and was staying apartment of appellant, who was then twenty-two.

 

With respect to the 1986 incident, the victim testified that it occurred while she was visiting appellant at his apartment in Baltimore City. Appellant objected, and argued that Article (CJ § 3-8A-23) applied which prohibited the State from introducing evidence of “criminal acts, or wrongs that were committed by an adult defendant when he or she was a juvenile.” The issue is whether CJ § 3-8A-23, which would prohibit the testimony, “trumps” Md. Rule 5-404(b), which permits the testimony. Md. Rule 5-404(b) provides the “sexual propensity” exception to the general rule excluding evidence of “other crimes” and allows “prior illicit sexual acts which are similar to the offense for which the accused is being tried and involve the same victim.” The circuit court permitted the victim to testify that she had been sexually abused by appellant as early as 1978, when appellant was fourteen years old. Although appellant was never charged, either as a juvenile or an adult, with any offenses stemming from this incident, the court ruled that such testimony was admissible under Maryland Rule 5-404(b) because “the . . . testimony would involve acts by the same Defendant against the same victim. That the acts were of the same general nature,” the evidence was admissible as proof of “motive, opportunity, intent, common scheme, plan and absence of mistake or accident.”

 

During all proceedings it was agreed that the admissibility of the evidence at issue was controlled by Md. Rule 5-404(b) because the statutory prohibition in CJ § 3-8A-23 does not apply to evidence that was never presented in a juvenile proceeding. Therefore, admissibility of the evidence at issue was controlled by Md. Rule 5-404(b). Because the discovery by the State made it clear that the 1986 incident occurred in November of that year at the Goodnow Road address, Petitioner is not entitled to a new trial on the ground that he was unfairly prejudiced by the amendments at issue.

 

Petitioner’s request for a new trial was denied and the CSA conviction is affirmed.