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

Bazzle v. State

Case brief from Byron Warnken, criminal lawyer.

Procedural History:

            Defendant was convicted at trial of attempted second degree murder, attempted armed carjacking, and first-degree assault.  Defendant appealed and the Court of Special Appeals affirmed.  Defendant filed a petition for writ of certiorari, which the Court of Appeals granted.

Issues:

  1. What is the required evidentiary showing for an instruction on voluntary intoxication.
  2. What constitutes a request for grounds of an objection within the meaning of Md. Rules 5-103(a) and 4-323.

Facts:

            Defendant got very drunk after consuming three forty ounce containers of beer with his friends.  He then attempted to walk to his friend’s house.  On his way to her house defendant suffered six or seven stab wounds in an altercation.  Defendant then ran the remainder of the way to the house and was subsequently hospitalized.  While in the hospital the victim, who was also being treated for stab wounds, recognized the Defendant as an attacker who had allegedly stabbed him earlier that night.

            Defendant was convicted of attempted second-degree murder, attempted armed carjacking, and first-degree assault.  He appealed on two grounds: first, that the court committed reversible error by failing to instruct the jury on voluntary intoxication and, second, allowing a witness to testify as to the certainty of his eyewitness identification.

The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the convictions and the Court of Appeals granted certiorari.

Holdings:

  1. The evidence did not support a jury instruction on a voluntary intoxication defense.
  2. The defendant failed to preserve his objection to the victim’s testimony that the victim was “very certain” the defendant was his attacker.

Rationale:

The evidence that the defendant’s blood alcohol content was nearly twice the legal driving limit, that he behaved illogically, and suffered some memory loss was insufficient to find the defendant was so intoxicated that he was unable to form the specific intent necessary to constitute his alleged crimes of attempted second degree murder, attempted armed carjacking, and first-degree assault.  All the defendant showed was that he was drunk and exhibited the typical characteristics of being drunk.

The Defendant failed to preserve for appeal his objection at trial to the victim’s testimony that the victim was “very certain” that the defendant was his attacker because the trial court specifically offered to hear grounds for the objection, said that without grounds it would overrule, and the defendant failed to provide grounds for the objection.  Md. Rule 4-323 requires that a contemporaneous general objection to the admission of evidence be supported by grounds when the trial court requests that the grounds be stated.