The Maryland Court of Appeals has overturned the 2003 rioting conviction of a Columbia man involved in an off-campus fight that led to the fatal stabbing of a University of Maryland student.
The ruling means John Ryan Schlamp could soon be released from prison, where he has been held for more than three years.
"I'm absolutely ecstatic, and not just for my son," said his father, John Randolph Schlamp of Columbia. "My son is in jail today for a crime he didn't do. If you don't stand up for your rights, you're done."
A Prince George's County jury acquitted Schlamp and a co-defendant of murder in connection with the fracas Nov. 10, 2002, in College Park. Schlamp was convicted of the lesser crime of rioting and second-degree assault.
But the appeals court ruled that rioting, as defined by English common law, requires an organized action by three or more people to "terrify others" in a "violent or turbulent manner."
Noting that the fight lasted just 30 seconds, the seven judges said there was no evidence of "an organized group confrontation."
With the conviction overturned, Schlamp is left with a three-year sentence for assault, which his attorney said he has served. All that remains is obtaining a court order that will trigger his release, said Stacy McCormack, an assistant public defender.
"It's just a formality," she said.
The co-defendant, Quan Lewayne Davis of Hanover, also was sentenced to 13 years. The status of his case was not immediately known.