Prosecutors are preparing for retrial of beating case

Defendant served 7 years until appeal freed him

October 29, 1999|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County prosecutors are preparing to start the retrial of Brady G. Spicer on Tuesday, amid uncertainties over whether the ruling that returned the case to a local courtroom will be appealed and whether they have to rush the case to trial.

Notification of the trial date went out yesterday, although subpoenas have not been issued, and defense attorneys are scrambling to put their case together.

Spicer is charged in the near-fatal beating in 1990 of popular restaurateur Francis "Bones" Denvir, who managed Armadillo's at Annapolis' City Dock.

He was convicted in 1992 and sentenced to 30 years in prison. But in December, a federal judge ruled that Spicer did not get a fair trial and ordered prosecutors to retry him within four months or free him. The state appealed that decision, but on Oct. 18, a federal appeals panel upheld the order. Last week, Spicer, 43, was freed on house arrest after serving 7 1/2 years in prison.

That left 17 days from the original four-month deadline for a retrial.

"We will be ready to start," said Kristin Riggin, spokeswoman for the county state's attorney's office.

The state attorney general's office is seeking clarification of whether a retrial must start within 17 days. The office, consulting with county prosecutors, also is considering challenging the federal appeals court ruling.

Spicer's lawyers are contending that the 17-day window does not begin until the appeals court formalizes its ruling in a mandate. Mandates are issued 21 days after an opinion.

"I have no fear of a retrial," said Spicer, who maintains his innocence.

Annapolis police did not get any physical evidence from the crime scene to link anyone to the crime. That whoever attacked Denvir left more than $1,000 on Denvir's desk puzzled police.

Riggin would not say if prosecutors would try to use testimony by Larry Michael Brown from the trial in 1992.

Brown made an agreement for probation in his drug case in exchange for testimony against Spicer but recanted before he died in July. Brown was at the center of the controversy that resulted in the federal rulings, because he did not tell his lawyer he saw Spicer run from the crime scene but told prosecutors he saw Spicer flee. The federal judges said prosecutors should have told the defense about the discrepancy.

Riggin also would not comment on what, if anything, has come of prosecutors' remarks last week that they had a new witness.

The victim has said he was hit from behind and had no idea who struck him with liquor bottles.

Prosecutors maintained it was not a coincidence that two other witnesses pointed to Spicer as the possible attacker after they were shown his photo.

The two witnesses testified at the first trial. One said Spicer looked "very familiar." The other, a bartender who chased his boss' attacker, described to police a shorter and slighter man than Spicer, but in court identified Spicer.

The case has taken odd twists. Among them, the victim stopped cooperating with police, and police testifying at a post-trial hearing expressed doubt about Spicer's guilt. This year, two judges refused to accept a plea agreement that would have ended the case with Spicer pleading guilty in exchange for not serving any more prison time.

Spicer's lawyers have vowed to present evidence that the jury did not hear in 1992.

Spicer, who did not testify at his first trial and who has a criminal record, maintained that he could not run because he suffered a debilitating knee injury 1 1/2 years before the crime. Also, Spicer is left-handed, and the initial blows were to the right side of the victim's head.

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