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KEITH A. WOOD v. STATE OF MARYLAND (access required)

On June 27, 1992, James Wallace was shot and killed. In November of 1995, Keith A. Wood, the appellant, was charged in a four-count indictment in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County with “murder,” use of a handgun in the commission of a felony, assault, and unlawfully carrying a handgun on his person, all arising out of the shooting death of Wallace. Wood was tried before a jury in May of 1996. The jury acquitted him of murder in the first degree but convicted him of murder in the second degree. It also convicted him of each of the handgun counts. The court sentenced Wood to 30 years’ imprisonment for second-degree murder and a consecutive term of 20 years’ imprisonment for use of a handgun in the commission of a felony. It merged for sentencing the conviction for unlawfully carrying a handgun into that for unlawful use. Wood unsuccessfully challenged his convictions on direct appeal and through post-conviction proceedings. Wood v. State, No. 1042, September Term, 1996 (filed April 4, 1997) (affirming judgments of conviction); State v. Wood, No. 22, September Term, 2000 (filed May 29, 2002) (reversing the circuit court’s grant of post-conviction relief and reinstating judgments of conviction). On December 3, 2013, Wood filed a pro se petition for writ of actual innocence. In it, he claimed that Count One of the indictment only charged him with murder in the first degree because it alleged that he had acted with premeditation, and that he was not charged with murder in the second degree. Therefore, he argued, his conviction for second-degree murder was, in effect, the product of a mid-trial constructive amendment to the indictment made without his consent, and was unlawful. Pursuant to CP section 8-301(e)(1), Wood requested a hearing on his petition. By order entered on December 19, 2013, the circuit court dismissed Wood’s petition without a hearing. He noted a timely appeal.