Murder-trial decision upheld

September 08, 2006|By Tyrone Richardson | Tyrone Richardson,SUN REPORTER

The state Court of Special Appeals yesterday upheld a Howard County judge's decision that a 33-year-old Columbia man found guilty of second-degree murder and child abuse in the beating death of his 2-year-old stepson in 2003 is not entitled to a new trial though a non-U.S. citizen was on the jury that convicted him.

Marcus Dannon Owens, now 35, was convicted in June 2004 in the death of his stepson at their Columbia home. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison. Shortly after his conviction, Owens' attorneys asked for a new trial because one juror was not a U.S. citizen.

The juror, a legal resident of the U.S. who is a citizen of Nigeria, later said he missed references to citizenship on a juror questionnaire, but said he learned of the requirement on the night of the verdict.

In July 2004, a Howard County Circuit Court upheld the conviction and denied Owens a new trial.

The appeals court upheld the Howard court's decision, saying the juror's questionnaire response was unintentional and that Owens was not prejudiced by the action.

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