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Following a jury trial in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, appellant, Gary Stokes, was convicted of first-degree assault, robbery with a dangerous weapon, theft under $1,000, and use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence. He was acquitted of charges of attempted first-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. After merging the theft conviction, the court imposed a sentence totaling 60 years’ incarceration, which consisted of consecutive 20-year terms for the armed robbery, first degree assault, and the handgun offense.

In his appeal, appellant presents the following questions, as restated for clarity:

1. Did the trial court err in denying appellant’s Batson challenge?

2. Did the trial court err in declining to merge the first-degree assault conviction into the armed robbery conviction for sentencing purposes?

3. Did the trial court impose a grossly disproportionate sentence?

For the reasons discussed below, we answer “yes” to the second question, and “no” to the first and the third questions. Thus, we shall affirm the judgments of the circuit court, but remand to that court for re-sentencing.

Read the unreported opinion.