Convict takes lie test in beating

Brady Spicer says polygraph proves he didn't assault man

April 28, 1999|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

The man serving a 30-year sentence for a ferocious 1990 attack on an Annapolis restaurant owner has passed a lie-detector test this week, indicating he had no role in the assault, he says.

"I need to let the people know that I am really innocent," said Brady G. Spicer, who had appealed his 1992 conviction for the beating of the popular owner of Armadillo's at City Dock.

In December, U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte ruled that Spicer had not received a fair trial and ordered prosecutors to release him or retry him by tomorrow.

Prosecutors say the lie detector test won't do much to change Spicer's situation. Kristin Riggin, spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office, said the case is on appeal in federal court.

A private investigative service administered the three-hour test Monday in the Anne Arundel County Detention Center, Spicer said.

The tester could not be reached last night, but the county state's attorney's office said it received a telephone message from one of Spicer's lawyers yesterday saying the polygraph test indicated Spicer was not the person who nearly killed Francis "Bones" Denvir. Spicer's lawyers said they could not discuss the case.

Polygraph results are not admissible in court. Polygraphs are not foolproof, relying heavily on the operator's skill and questioning as well as the state of mind of the subject. Some attorneys and police consider them as worthwhile as a Ouija board.

"I have seen them reliable and I have seen them fatally flawed," said defense attorney T. Joseph Touhey. He said he has had clients pass a polygraph test, then confess their guilt when told police would administer a second test. "I wouldn't rely on it."

Spicer had hoped to be freed when prosecutors, soon after the federal ruling, agreed to a plea bargain in which Spicer would have traded a guilty plea for time served. Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Eugene M. Lerner, who heard the case, rejected the proposal.

Prosecutors then asked the attorney general's office to appeal Messitte's ruling. That appeal will be heard June 8 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Va.

Annapolis police did not consider Spicer a suspect in Denvir's beating and questioned his conviction. Several testified on Spicer's behalf. Police had no motive for Spicer to have beaten Denvir. More than $1,000 in cash was left behind at the crime scene. Denvir, who was alone in his office, was hit on the back of the head with liquor bottles and said he never saw who attacked him.

The case remained open for more than a year after the assault, until Larry Michael Brown of Annapolis offered information to prosecutors. Brown identified Spicer as the man he saw running from the restaurant the night Denvir was beaten, swapping his testimony for probation in a drug case in which he could have received a 20-year prison term.

Based largely on Brown's information, prosecutors sought an indictment against Spicer in Denvir's beating.

In his Dec. 29 ruling, Messitte wrote that he had little confidence in Brown's testimony, which he said differed from early conversations Brown had with his lawyer and a prosecutor.

Messitte also questioned the reliability of two other men who identified Spicer as the man running from the scene, noting that Spicer did not match their description of the suspect. Spicer maintained that he cannot run fast because of a 1988 knee injury, something not pursued at his trial.

Pub Date: 4/28/99

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