Prosecutors want to force Spicer to see their doctor

Condition of his knee may be key evidence

February 04, 2000|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County prosecutors fired the latest volley yesterday in the war of motions before the March retrial of Brady G. Spicer, who is accused of the near-fatal beating of a popular Annapolis restaurateur in 1990.

Prosecutors are asking Circuit Judge Clayton Greene Jr. to force Spicer, over the objections of his lawyers, to let their physician examine his knee. Spicer said the knee was broken a year and a half before the crime in an injury that left him unable to run.

The condition of Spicer's knee could be crucial to the case because the assailant outran a bartender who chased him through Annapolis' historic district. Spicer, who has maintained his innocence, has said he suffered in 1988 a broken kneecap that was not fully treated.

"We believe that the motion speaks for itself, and we wouldn't ask for this examination if we didn't believe it would be relevant to this case," Assistant State's Attorney Thomas J. Pryal said yesterday.

Spicer's knee was not an issue in his trial in 1992. In a post-trial hearing in which Spicer challenged his conviction, his defense attorney said he found no need to present medical information to the jury.

Spicer was convicted of beating Francis "Bones" Denvir, who managed Armadillo's at City Dock, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

In 1998, a federal judge in Baltimore said Spicer was unfairly convicted and faulted prosecutors, ordering them to retry him or free him. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling.

Prosecutors say they need the exam to assess the knee injury, how well it healed and whether surgery had been performed on it.

Although defense attorneys have arranged for their physician to check Spicer's knee, prosecutors want their expert to examine him but have been rejected by Spicer's lawyers.

While Spicer has said the knee was not completely treated, the appeals court wrote in its opinion that he had surgery on it.

How much an exam now could reveal about an injury 12 years ago and the condition of the knee in 1990 is uncertain.

"We have a competent Annapolis doctor examining him," said defense lawyer Daryl D. Jones. "There is no reason for the state to impose their own doctor."

The issue is among motions that will be argued in court next week. Spicer's retrial is scheduled to begin next month.

Among the defense complaints is that Annapolis police photos shown to two eyewitnesses a decade ago might no longer exist. Prosecutors have been looking for the photos and the identifications of people in them.

The defense contends the photos are crucial because, in a case with no physical evidence, only eyewitness testimony could tie Spicer to the crime. A transcript of Spicer's post-conviction hearing in 1995 indicates some photos were lost.

Denvir, in his office at midday, was struck from behind with liquor bottles. He said he never saw who hit him.

The initial blows were to the right side of his head. Spicer is left-handed.

Nearly every bone in Denvir's face was rebuilt, and he suffers lingering eye and nasal injuries.

The witness who named Spicer to prosecutors said last spring that he did so only because it won him probation in his own drug case. He died shortly after recanting his statement.

Annapolis police, unable to solve the high-profile case and criticized by prosecutors for not recovering physical evidence, have testified previously that they don't think Spicer, who has a criminal record, committed the crime. Spicer did not closely match the descriptions given by eyewitnesses.

Spicer, placed on house arrest in October to await retrial, was jailed last month for violating house arrest rules when he failed a drug test, according to court documents.

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