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EDWARD ALLEN HARRIS v. STATE OF MARYLAND

Criminal procedure — Prosecution witness — Competency

On March 22, 2009, James Faulcon, the victim, was shot and killed while sitting in his car. After a subsequent investigation, Edward Allen Harris, appellant, was indicted for first degree murder and other related charges pertaining to the death of Faulcon.

From June 7, 2010, to June 10, 2010, a jury trial was held in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. On the second day of trial, defense counsel made a motion to exclude the testimony of a State’s witness, Nathan McCoy, because it was discovered that morning that McCoy was being held at the Spring Grove Hospital Center (“Spring Grove”). Defense counsel requested that McCoy not be permitted to testify because of his lack of competency, but after a voir dire of McCoy outside the presence of the jury, the court determined McCoy to be competent to testify. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury convicted appellant of first degree murder, conspiracy to commit first degree murder, and use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence.

Appellant was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment for the charge of first degree murder, a consecutive sentence of life imprisonment for the charge of conspiracy to commit first degree murder, and twenty years’ imprisonment for the charge of use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence to run consecutively to the conspiracy sentence. Then, almost six years later, appellant requested post-conviction relief in the form of an unopposed motion to permit a belated appeal, which was granted by consent order that same day.

In this appeal, appellant presents the following question for our review, which we have rephrased as follows:

Did the circuit court err or abuse its discretion in determining the competency of a State’s witness and therefore permitting him to testify at trial?

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