Retrial of Spicer delayed because of scheduling conflict

New date uncertain in case of man ordered to be retried or freed

November 02, 1999|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

The quickly scheduled retrial of Brady G. Spicer, which was to start today, was postponed yesterday because defense lawyers are scheduled for a trial elsewhere.

When the retrial in the high-profile case will take place remains uncertain. Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Clayton Greene Jr. did not set a new trial date.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers are unsure about how much time they have to begin a retrial under the order of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which upheld a lower court order for a new trial.

The new trial may have to be held as soon as Nov. 24 to comply with the federal courts. Anne Arundel prosecutors have asked the attorney general's office to clarify that.

"We're ready to go to trial now," said Kristin Riggin, spokeswoman for the Anne Arundel County state's attorney's office.

Spicer's defense lawyers, however, are scrambling to put together their case.

"We have a lot of work to do," said Carroll L. McCabe, one of Spicer's two attorneys.

The defense still has people to interview, records to review and motions to prepare.

Spicer, 43, of Annapolis, is charged in the near-fatal 1990 beating of Francis "Bones" Denvir, a popular restaurateur who managed Armadillo's at Annapolis' City Dock. Denvir suffers ailments from the injuries he received when he was slugged from behind with whiskey bottles as he worked in his upstairs office.

A jury convicted Spicer in 1992, and he was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Spicer, who has a record of mostly property crimes, has maintained his innocence. While no physical evidence linked Spicer to the crime, three witnesses identified Spicer, though two of the witnesses were not as sure as witness Michael Brown was.

Annapolis police had been unable to solve the crime. Then Brown, an acquaintance of Spicer's facing the prospect of 20 years in prison on drug charges, came forward. But Brown's word and his swapping of testimony for probation in his case, became a focus of Spicer's appeals.

Brown told his lawyer that he spoke with Spicer a few days before and after the crime and that Spicer said things that led him to believe Spicer did it. But when he spoke to prosecutors, Brown added that he saw Spicer run from Armadillo's. Brown recanted his testimony this spring and died in July.

In December, a federal judge ruled that Spicer did not receive a fair trial in part because of the discrepancy in Brown's testimony, and ordered prosecutors either to retry Spicer within four months or free him. On Oct. 18, the appeals judges agreed, and a day later Greene placed Spicer under house arrest to await retrial.

But the appeals panel did not say when the four-month period started or would end. With only 17 days left of the original four months, prosecutors prepared for trial today. But the appeals court has another week in which to issue its mandate, which formalizes the ruling.

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