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Criminal procedure — Impeachment of defendant’s testimony — Silence during police interview

In November 2015, Brooke Connell had her purse stolen while she was shopping at a Wal-Mart in Berlin. Connell claimed that the thief assaulted her when she grabbed her purse back as he fled the scene. Three days later, Edward Brad Ward, Jr., appellant, was arrested in connection with the incident and charged principally with theft, seconddegree assault, and attempted robbery. A one-day jury trial on the charges was conducted in the Circuit Court for Worcester County. At the trial, Ward took the stand and admitted stealing the purse, but denied ever assaulting Connell. During his cross-examination by the State, Ward was questioned about his silence during his police interrogation regarding questions about the alleged robbery. The court permitted these questions over the objection of defense counsel. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury convicted Ward on all counts. After the trial, Ward moved to dismiss his counsel and filed a motion for a new trial. The trial court granted his request to dismiss his attorney, but then denied his motion for a new trial. The court then sentenced Ward to twelve years in prison.

Ward appealed, and now presents two questions for our review:

1. Did the trial court err in allowing the State to impeach Ward’s testimony with evidence of his silence during a police interview?

2. Did the trial court err in refusing to consider Ward’s motion for a new trial under Maryland Rule 4-331(a)?

Read the opinion here: