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ISAAC GRAY v. STATE OF MARYLAND

Criminal procedure — Illegal sentence — Life without parole

In 1986, a jury sitting in the Circuit Court for Howard County convicted Isaac Gray, the appellant, of first-degree rape and battery after he attacked a woman on a bicycle path in Columbia, held a knife to her throat, and raped her twice. The court sentenced him to life in prison for rape and a concurrent five-year term for battery. His convictions were affirmed on direct appeal. Gray v. State, 317 Md. 250 (1989). In 2017, the appellant filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence, arguing that because the court stated during sentencing that the appellant would serve “the remainder of [his] natural life in prison,” the sentence imposed was life without the possibility of parole. (Emphasis added.)

That sentence was not legislatively authorized for any crime in 1986. See Collins v. State, 318 Md. 269, 298 (1990) (legislature enacted statute permitting life without the possibility of parole as a sentence for first-degree murder effective July 1, 1987). The circuit court summarily denied his motion. …

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