Hunt, officer's killer, fails in death sentence appeal

December 29, 1990|By Joel McCord | Joel McCord,Sun Staff Correspondent

ANNAPOLIS -- The Court of Appeals upheld yesterday the death sentence of Flint Gregory Hunt, who gunned down Baltimore police Officer Vincent J. Adolfo in an alley in 1985.

Officer Adolfo was shot twice as he tried to arrest Hunt after Hunt fled from a stolen car into an East Baltimore alleyway.

The ruling marks the second time Maryland's highest court has reviewed Hunt's sentence. It upheld his conviction but vacated the death sentence in 1988, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that testimony from a victim's family about its anguish could not be permitted in a sentencing hearing.

Yesterday, however, the court, in a 59-page opinion, painstakingly rejected each of the 14 questions Hunt raised in seeking to overturn the ruling from his second sentencing hearing.

Hunt complained, for example, that Baltimore Circuit Judge Joseph I. Pines, who presided over the three-week hearing, erred by requiring Hunt to wear leg irons after the hearing started.

The sight of the restraints would unduly prejudice the jury, he argued.

But Judge Harold S. Chasanow, writing for the unanimous court, found that because the defendant's guilt already has been determined, "the jury is less likely to be prejudiced" by his appearance in leg irons.

Judge Pines, who already knew that Hunt had been cited repeatedly for prison violations and that he had once feigned an illness to test the possibility of an escape, took necessary precautions, Judge Chasanow wrote.

Hunt also questioned Judge Pines' refusal to strike five potential jurors for cause.

But only one of those jurors eventually sat on the panel that decided his sentence, and the trial judge did not abuse his discretion in allowing that juror to serve, the court ruled.

The decision does not necessarily mean that Hunt may be executed any time soon. Several avenues of appeal remain for defense attorneys, including seeking federal court reviews.

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