New trial ordered in 1978 shooting death of man

April 09, 1992|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

Joyce Danna rose to her feet, her ankles shackled by leg irons, and cried tears of joy yesterday when Baltimore County Circuit Judge Thomas J. Bollinger ordered her release from prison on $25,000 bond.

After 14 years in the Maryland prison system, freedom -- at least temporary freedom -- was just over the horizon for Mrs. Danna, 42, whose 1978 conviction in her husband's murder was overturned Friday. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals granted her a new trial. She had been serving a life sentence.

Mrs. Danna and her lawyer, Rachel A. Wohl, embraced in court yesterday. "She said, 'Justice finally does happen,' " according to the lawyer. Friends and family applauded from their seats in the gallery.

Mrs. Danna was taken to the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup, where she will be processed before release later this week.

Prosecutors said they had not decided whether to retry her or appeal the case to the state's highest tribunal, the Court of Appeals.

Ms. Wohl sought yesterday's hearing in Towson after the Court of Special Appeals ruled that a judge improperly instructed jurors during Mrs. Danna's 1978 trial for the Dec. 11, 1977, fatal shooting of her husband, Louis J. Danna, 30, a Baltimore police officer. Mrs. Danna said the shooting was an accident.

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