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Md. appeals court: Gang member must reimburse threatened family

A judge validly ordered a violent gang member to reimburse the family he scared away when he threatened to raze a house the family had just rented in Baltimore as it was moving in, Maryland’s second-highest court ruled Tuesday.

The Cannon family’s decision to bolt from the home on East 30th Street was the “direct result” of an armed Teddy Shannon’s threat to “blow the house up” and “burn” it down because it was on what he called his block, the Court of Special Appeals said in upholding the order that Shannon pay $2,400 in restitution for the security deposit and first month’s rent that the fleeing family left behind.

The restitution order followed Shannon’s conviction in Baltimore City Circuit Court for threatening arson and illegal gun possession. The Black Guerrilla Family gang member also was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Upholding the conviction and punishment, the Court of Special Appeals rejected Shannon’s argument through counsel that he could not be ordered to pay restitution because his threat bore only a “reasonable connection” to the family’s financial loss. The intervening, or more direct, cause for the loss of the security deposit and rent was the family’s decision to abandon the house in December 2016, Shannon argued.

The Court of Special Appeals, in its reported 3-0 decision, said the threat was in fact the direct cause.

The court cited the Maryland high court’s April decision upholding a judge’s order that a robber reimburse the owners of the homes he robbed for the cost of changing their locks. The Court of Appeals stated in In re G.R. that “the decision to rekey the locks was not an intervening act. Instead, it was a necessary action taken to restore and maintain the sanctity and security of the homes to which the keys belonged.”

Likewise, the Court of Special Appeals said Shannon’s armed threat against the Cannons marked a “breach in the security and sanctity” of their new home and “necessitated” their hasty departure “for the protection of the family’s personal safety.”

Shannon’s appellate attorney, Assistant Maryland Public Defender Jeffrey M. Ross, declined to comment Wednesday on the Court of Special Appeals’ ruling. He said no decision has been made yet on whether Shannon will seek review by the Court of Appeals.

Writing for the Court of Special Appeals, Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. described the Cannons being greeted with gunfire and Shannon telling the father, “This is my block, I protect my block, we shoot first and ask questions later.”

Shannon later said “he was going to burn the house down” and threatened the Cannons if they called the police, which they nevertheless did, according to the opinion.

A responding officer’s body camera recorded Shannon’s threat to burn the house down and Shannon telling the family to “pack your (stuff) up and leave.”

The officers escorted the Cannons from the neighborhood and they “never returned to the house,” wrote Thieme, a retired judge sitting by special assignment.

“No one in the Cannon family spent a single night in the house,” Thieme added. “This evidence amply supports the sentencing court’s determination that the Cannons’ abandonment of their leasehold was a ‘direct result’ of (Shannon’s) armed threats to burn that house. Like the cost of rekeying locks in In re G.R., this out-of-pocket loss was caused by appellant’s crimes.”

Thieme was joined in the opinion by Judges Douglas R.M. Nazarian and Kevin F. Arthur.

The Court of Special Appeals rendered its decision in Teddy Shannon v. State of Maryland, No. 2378, September Term 2017.

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