Drug conviction upset for man who hit officer

August 18, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

A defendant who punched a police officer in an Anne Arundel Circuit courtroom after he was convicted of drug charges last year had his conviction reversed this week by the Court of Special Appeals.

Alvin Brown, 36, of the 1300 block of Harbor Road, in Arundel on the Bay, may be free in six months instead of four years as a result of Monday's decision, his lawyer, H. Richard Duden III, said.

Mr. Duden said Brown must serve the six-month term imposed after he pleaded guilty to battery for his June 15, 1993, attack on Detective Dean D'Camera.

Prosecutors might retry the drug case, and the attorney general's office might appeal the ruling to the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, Mr. Duden said.

Assistant State's Attorney John H. Robinson III, who prosecuted the drug case, yesterday said he would have to read the opinion before deciding whether to retry the case.

Gwynn Kinsey, an assistant attorney general in the criminal appeals division, also said no decision has been made on an appeal.

Brown was convicted in June 1993 and sentenced to five years in prison for possession of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine and drug conspiracy charges.

After his conviction, Brown, who had been free on bond during the trial, turned and punched Detective D'Camera, the arresting officer, in the face. The two struggled for about three minutes before sheriff's deputies subdued Brown.

Four months later, Brown pleaded guilty to battery and was sentenced to six months consecutive to the drug charge sentence.

On Monday, a three-judge panel of the Court of Special Appeals ruled that Judge Bruce C. Williams erred when he refused Mr. Duden's request to instruct jurors that they could disregard Brown's incriminating statement to police if they felt it was involuntary.

At Brown's drug trial, Detective D'Camera testified that he arrested Brown at the defendant's house, handcuffed him, explained his rights and asked if there were any more drugs in the house. A small quantity had been found.

The detective testified that Brown replied, "Only what was in the back." Brown denied making the statement, Mr. Duden said.

During the trial, Mr. Duden asked Judge Williams to instruct the jury regarding the statement. Judge Williams refused because, the appellate court said, "he felt such an instruction was inconsistent with appellant's testimony that he made no statements to the police."

The appeals court said a defendant is entitled "to have the jury instructed on any theory of defense that is fairly supported by the evidence, even if several theories offered are inconsistent."

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