Ordered freed, woman is still in jail Murder conviction was overturned, but Joyce Danna unable to post bail.

April 30, 1992|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

Joyce Danna remains in prison, although her 15-year-old murder conviction was overturned April 8 and a Baltimore County Circuit Court ordered her freed on $25,000 bond.

Rachael Wohl, Mrs. Danna's lawyer, said her client's family and friends have not been able to post bail.

Several of them tried to put up their homes as security, Ms. Wohl said, but none had built up enough equity.

Ms. Wohl said a fund set up by the House of Ruth, a shelter for battered women, has raised nearly $2,000, almost the 10 percent a bail bondsman requires.

But the lawyer said she had expected Mrs. Danna to be freed immediately after Judge Thomas J. Bollinger set bail during a hearing five days after the conviction was overturned. Mrs. Danna has spent 14 years at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women.

"Her spirits are very good," said Ms. Wohl, who described Mrs. Danna as a very religious woman.

"She sees the light at the end of the tunnel, and she's not impatient."

Mrs. Danna was sentenced to life in prison in 1978 after she was convicted by a Baltimore County Circuit Court in the shooting death of her husband, Louis J. Danna, 30, a Baltimore police officer.

The conviction was overturned by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, the state's second-highest court, which ruled that the trial judge made an extraordinary error in instructing the jury by suggesting that each of them did not have to find that she was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Gary E. Bair, chief of the Maryland attorney general's criminal appeals division, said his office may appeal the case to the state's highest court. He said it has not made a decision yet, but is leaning toward filing a petition with the Court of Appeals because the decision by the lower appellate court could affect future cases.

Ms. Wohl said anyone interested in helping Mrs. Danna may send contributions to the House of Ruth-Joyce Danna Fund, 2201 Argonne Drive, Baltimore 21218.

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