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Miles asks CSA to reconsider death-sentence appeal

Lawyers for Jody Lee Miles have asked the Court of Special Appeals to reconsider its decision that his death-sentence appeal became moot when former Gov. Martin O’Malley commuted it to life in prison without the possibly of parole.

Miles’ lawyers hope to continue the appeal in order to argue for a life sentence with the possibility of parole.  In their motion for reconsideration, they argue that the appellate court’s opinion last week does not address Miles’ claim that his death sentence was illegal once the General Assembly abolished capital punishment in 2013. The lawyers argue that a Jan. 29 motion filed with the Court of Special Appeals asked the appellate panel to address the legality of the death sentence “notwithstanding the governor’s action.”

The Court of Special Appeals heard oral arguments in the case Dec. 8, three weeks before O’Malley announced he would be shutting down the state’s death row and almost six weeks before the former governor officially commuted Miles’ sentence by executive order.

At the oral arguments, the state acknowledged that Miles’ capital sentence presented due process issues as then-Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler had concluded the state could no longer carry out the death penalty against him.

The Court of Special Appeals issued its opinion on Feb. 4, finding the commutation mooted the appeal. Miles’ lawyers filed their motion for reconsideration Monday.

Miles’ lawyers previously had asked O’Malley to allow Miles’ appeal of his sentence to make its way through the legal system. After Miles’ sentence was commuted, his lawyers filed a motion in Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court opposing his new sentence because, if his appeal were successful, a sentence with the possibility of parole is at least on option.

Lawyers for the state have agreed with O’Malley that Miles’ new sentence should be life without the possibility of parole.

Miles was convicted in the 1997 murder and robbery of Edward J. Atkinson on the Eastern Shore and sentenced to death a year later.

Miles is represented by Robert W. Biddle of Nathans & Biddle LLP in Baltimore, Erika Alsid Short of Chason, Rosner, Leary & Marshall LLC in Towson and Brian Saccenti, chief of the appellate division in the Office of the Public Defender.