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SAMUEL COOPER V. STATE OF MARYLAND (access required)

This matter comes to us on appeal from the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, where appellant Samuel Cooper was indicted on charges stemming from the shooting of Charles Williams in August 2012. A jury convicted Cooper of robbery with a deadly weapon, assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree, and the use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence. The trial judge sentenced Cooper to a total of 12 years of incarceration. This timely appeal followed. QUESTIONS PRESENTED Cooper raises two questions on appeal, which we restate as follows: I. Did the circuit court commit reversible error in admitting testimony by a police detective, who recounted the victim’s out-of-court statements concerning his version of the events? II. Did the circuit court err in declining to merge Cooper’s convictions for first-degree assault and robbery with a deadly weapon? Because we conclude both that the court abused its discretion in permitting the detective to recount the victim’s out-of-court statements and that the admission of the statements was not harmless, we shall reverse Cooper’s convictions and remand for a new trial. Because of our disposition of Cooper’s convictions on that ground alone, we need not address the merits of his second challenge.