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ARNOLD JOHNSON, JR. v. STATE OF MARYLAND

Criminal procedure — Illegal sentence — Merger of felony murder and predicate felonies

After a jury trial in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Arnold Johnson, Jr. was convicted of first-degree felony murder, attempted robbery with a deadly weapon, first-degree burglary, and use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence.

He raises four issues on appeal, which we have reworded and reordered: (1) Did the trial court err by: (a) denying Johnson’s motion for a mistrial after a police witness alluded to a previous arrest of Johnson, or (b) giving the jury an inadequate and prejudicial instruction? (2) Did the trial court err by refusing to treat Johnson’s pro se motion for a new trial as timely filed within the purview of Md. Rule 4-331(a)? (3) Did the trial court err in denying Johnson’s motion for a new trial based upon defense counsel’s discovery that the victim has been the subject of a Drug Enforcement Agency investigation at the time of his death? (4) Did the lower court err in declining to merge the convictions for felony murder and both potential predicate felony convictions of attempted armed robbery with a dangerous weapon and first-degree burglary for sentencing purposes?

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