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Criminal procedure — Confrontation clause — Testimony by Skype

While serving probation for three convictions that occurred in 2015, Garrick Powell, appellant, was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine, possession of paraphernalia, and several traffic offenses. [R. 11- 12, 14-17.] Although Powell was found guilty only of the traffic offenses, the State charged him with violating his probation because of his alleged possession of cocaine. [R. 11-12, 16-17, 62-63.] At a probation revocation hearing, the State presented evidence that a police officer observed Powell discard a baggie that contained a substance that was later identified as cocaine by a police chemist. The State also presented remote testimony via Skype from the officer who submitted the baggie for testing. Defense counsel objected, arguing that the State was required to put on live, in-person testimony from the chemist and the officer. The Circuit Court for Baltimore City overruled those objections and found that Powell violated the terms of his probation [T3. 88.] The court sentenced Powell to 11 years of imprisonment in one case and concurrent terms of seven years, seven months, and 12 days in each of the other cases. [S. 29.] Having been granted leave to appeal,1 Powell presents the following two questions: 1. Whether, at the violation of probation hearing, the circuit court erred in allowing the State to introduce the chemist’s report without the presence of the chemist, analyst, or other persons in the chain-of-custody over the probationer’s objection where the probationer had made a timely demand for the chemist’s presence pursuant to § 10-914(f) of the Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article of the Maryland Code. 2. Whether the circuit court erred in allowing a State’s witness, a retired police officer residing in another state, to testify via Skype at the probation revocation hearing.2 [Order granting leave to appeal, 4/8/19.] We conclude that the court …

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