No new trial for man convicted in woman's strangulation death

August 08, 2002|By Andrea Siegel | Andrea Siegel,SUN STAFF

A Pasadena man will not get a new trial on murder charges involving the death of a woman who lived two blocks away, the Court of Special Appeals ruled yesterday.

The high court's decision reverses a decision by an Anne Arundel County circuit judge to erase the guilty plea by Howard Grant Brown Jr.

Brown, 30, is serving a 30-year prison term for the December 1997 strangulation death of Brenda Lee Painter.

After the Court of Special Appeals refused to consider his appeal in 1999, Brown claimed he had an inadequate defense, and Circuit Judge Pamela L. North agreed.

She said Brown did not understand his rights when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, as he was mentally retarded, under stress and crying, had taken a tranquilizer, was talked into the plea and was not clearly advised of the nature of a jury trial.

Prosecutors appealed. In denying Brown a new trial, a three-judge panel of the appellate court said that because he should have raised the issues in his first challenge, North should not have considered them.

The appellate judges also found that Brown understood that a jury could have convicted him of first-degree murder, which State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee said yesterday helped to show that Brown appreciated the choice he made.

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