Court upholds death sentence for killer of city police officer Hunt could be executed as early as May, state says

March 19, 1997|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Thomas W. Waldron contributed to this article.

The Maryland Court of Appeals upheld the death sentence of killer Flint Gregory Hunt yesterday, paving the way for him to be executed in the state's gas chamber as early as May.

After reviewing the case for more than six months, the judges voted 6-1 to uphold the death penalty against Hunt for the Nov. 18, 1985, shooting of Baltimore police Officer Vincent J. Adolfo in an East Baltimore alley. Chief Judge Robert M. Bell dissented.

Gary E. Bair, chief of the criminal appeals division of the Maryland attorney general's office, said the state would be able to seek a death warrant for Hunt within 30 days. That warrant, if granted by a Circuit Court judge, would make it possible for Hunt to be executed within four to eight weeks.

Hunt's attorney, Fred Warren Bennett, said he would ask the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the Maryland court decision, and also will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

"Obviously I'm disappointed, as is Mr. Hunt," Bennett said. "This, of course, brings his case that much closer to finality."

Gov. Parris N. Glendening has announced he does not plan to block Hunt's execution, and he reiterated his position yesterday. "Unless there is something new. I believe my decision is final," the governor said.

Hunt, who has twice been sentenced to die, was within two weeks of execution in June when the court issued a stay to consider his appeal. The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson came to Baltimore for a hasty visit with the prisoner and to condemn what he called disproportionate sentencing.

Since then, the Adolfo family has been wondering when the case would end. Fred Adolfo, Vincent's father, died in January at age 62.

"My problem is my dad won't be here to see it happen," said Mike Adolfo, the officer's brother. "He waited 12 years." Of the court's opinion, he said: "It's pretty good news. Just something to get it out of the way, put it behind us. It seems like we put everything behind us but this."

Adolfo and Hunt met in a narrow side street called Iron Alley, where the officer chased Hunt from a stolen Cadillac. As Adolfo struggled to handcuff him, Hunt shot the officer twice, then fled. Five days later, he was captured in a Tulsa, Okla., bus station.

In his latest appeal, Hunt argued that he was entitled to a new sentencing because two jurors on the panel that sentenced him to death the second time -- in 1988 -- did not disclose information that might have led defense attorneys to disqualify them.

He also pointed to a 1986 memo by Baltimore Assistant State's Attorney Marvin "Sam" Brave, which indicated that prosecutors had told a key witness in Hunt's case, Aaron McNair, that they would bring his cooperation to the attention of a judge in a separate assault case. Hunt's lawyers said the jury should have been told about any arrangements that might have motivated McNair's account.

In a 59-page opinion by Judge Robert Karwacki, the court said Hunt had not shown that the jurors were biased against him, and that he raised the issue too late.

Bell, in a dissenting opinion, said Hunt could not have known of the jurors' conflicts earlier, and that the jurors should be considered biased by the fact that they concealed information.

Pub Date: 3/19/97

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