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WILLIAM RAYMOND EASON v. STATE OF MARYLAND

Criminal procedure — Ineffective assistance of counsel — Deficient performance

In the early morning of May 18, 1996, William Vila was murdered in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Oxon Hill, Maryland, and his friend, Jeffrey Forde, narrowly escaped the same fate. William Eason, appellant, was charged with the first-degree murder of Vila and the attempted first-degree murder of Forde, as well as related handgun offenses. In late 1997, a jury trial was held on those charges in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County. Three eyewitnesses testified: Forde and Redina Bouldin for the State; and Renee Wilson, Eason’s reputed girlfriend, as an alibi witness for the defense. Wilson, in contradiction to the other two witnesses, claimed that Eason had not been present at the crime scene. That trial concluded in a hung jury and mistrial.

Three months later, in March 1998, Eason was retried. Although his trial counsel had intended to call Wilson as a witness at the retrial, she did not appear. Instead, Eason’s trial counsel called a different witness, David Lamont Worcuff, Eason’s cousin. Unlike Wilson, who had testified that Eason was not present at the crime scene, Worcuff testified that Eason was present at the scene, but was not the shooter. This time, the jury convicted Eason of first-degree murder of Vila, attempted second-degree murder of Forde, and two counts of use of a handgun in the commission of a felony or crime of violence. The court sentenced Eason to the maximum sentence: life imprisonment for first-degree murder and consecutive terms of twenty, thirty, and twenty years’ imprisonment on the remaining charges.

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