High court denies appeals by killers of officer, banker

March 01, 1994|By Lyle Denniston | Lyle Denniston,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- Over the lone dissent of Justice Harry A. Blackmun, the Supreme Court turned aside yesterday new appeals by Maryland death row inmates Gregory Flint Hunt and Kenneth Lloyd Collins.

The Maryland cases were among 18 appeals from 12 states challenging death sentences, and the court refused yesterday to hear any of them. Mr. Blackmun said each sentence should be overturned, adding emphasis to his announcement a week ago that he would no longer support any executions because he now believes that capital punishment is unconstitutional in all cases.

In one of yesterday's orders, the court left undisturbed Hunt's 1988 death sentence for murdering Baltimore police Officer Vincent Adolfo in November 1985 as the officer tried to arrest Hunt after he stole a car.

Hunt originally was sentenced to die in 1986. That sentence was overturned by the Maryland Court of Appeals in 1988, but he was resentenced to death in a lower state court two years later. The state Court of Appeals upheld the new sentence in 1990, and the Supreme Court rejected his appeal in 1991.

Hunt's latest legal maneuver was an unsuccessful attempt last year to challenge his conviction and sentence in Baltimore City Circuit Court, based largely on claims that his defense lawyers were inadequate.

Collins also had tried previously to get the Supreme Court to review his case, failing in 1990. He was convicted and given a death sentence in 1988 in Somerset County for killing a local bank vice president, Wayne L. Breeden, in Baltimore in 1986.

In 1991, Collins started a new but also unsuccessful challenge to his conviction and death sentence in Somerset County Circuit Court, claiming that his poor upbringing and low intelligence rating should have counted more in his favor at sentencing. He also claimed that his defense lawyer was inadequate.

The Hunt and Collins cases were among three Maryland capital punishment cases to reach the Supreme Court in recent weeks. The court is still studying the third, a broad constitutional challenge to Maryland's entire death penalty law by Eugene Sherman Colvin-El, sentenced to die for the 1980 stabbing death of an elderly Florida woman.

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