Judge's mistrial ruling upheld in murder case

May 08, 1994|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

A Howard County circuit judge who criticized a defense attorney in front of the jury during a murder trial in February was right to declare a mistrial, according to a ruling this week by the county's administrative judge.

The ruling by Judge Raymond Kane Jr. means that Troy Lynn Brooks of Baltimore County will stand trial a second time in the October 1992 slaying of his longtime friend.

The new trial has not been scheduled. Mr. Brooks' attorney, William H. Murphy Jr. of Baltimore, is expected to appeal Judge Kane's ruling to the state Court of Special Appeals.

Mr. Murphy argued at a hearing last month that Judge James Dudley should never have declared a mistrial, despite the

judge's instructions to the jury to ignore Mr. Murphy's speeches and "obnoxious comments."

Mr. Murphy said he didn't want the mistrial, charging that Judge Dudley ended the trial because the defense was winning.

But Judge Kane issued a ruling Tuesday, saying that Judge Dudley acted properly because his comments most likely harmed Mr. Brooks in the eyes of the jurors.

"Under no circumstances does a fair reading of the transcript lead this court to conclude that Judge Dudley engaged in 'judicial overreaching' motivated by his desire to assist the state," Judge Kane said.

Mr. Murphy argued at a hearing last month that the indictment against Mr. Brooks should be dismissed because a second trial would violate laws prohibiting double jeopardy.

But Senior Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Murtha, who is prosecuting Mr. Brooks, stated that Judge Dudley was not only protecting the rights of Mr. Brooks, but also the public's interest in requiring that trials be fair.

Mr. Brooks, 29, of Rockdale is charged with first-degree murder in the Oct. 10, 1992, slaying of Kevin Lee Holland, 27, of Baltimore during a dispute over drugs.

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