Appeal from the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County; Michaelson and Evans, JJ.
Brune, C. J., and Henderson, Hammond, Prescott and Horney, JJ. Horney, J., delivered the opinion of the Court.
John L. Brady (Brady) and Charles D. Boblit (Boblit) were indicted for the murder of William Brooks committed in the perpetration of a robbery. Brady was tried first before a jury. Boblit was tried by the court sitting without a jury. Both were found guilty of murder in the first degree and sentenced to death. The evidence being sufficient to sustain the judgments, both convictions were affirmed by this Court in Boblit v. State, 220 Md. 454, sub nom. Brady v. State, 154 A.2d 434 (1959).
In extra-judicial statements and at his trial, Brady admitted participation in the robbery, but denied that he had
killed the victim. His claim was that Boblit was the actual murderer. It was for this reason that counsel for Brady in his argument to the jury, though admitting that the accused was guilty of murder in the first degree, plead with the jury to add to its verdict in that degree the words "without capital punishment." The jury declined to do so.
On the appeal in Boblit v. State, supra, the sole contention raised on behalf of Brady was that his confession had been obtained by force and a promise of reward. It was conceded, however, that he had not been mistreated by the police. We held that the trial court was not in error in accepting the denial by the police that a promise of reward had been made.
At the subsequent trial of Boblit, the State offered as evidence a transcription of what purported to be an oral statement made by Boblit to the police on July 9, 1958. The unsigned statement, after setting forth that on July 2, 1958, he (Boblit) had told the police that Brady had strangled William Brooks and that he wanted to change his story, goes on to say, among other things, that at the suggestion of Brady he (Boblit) "took and twisted * * * [his] shirt sleeve and choked him [the victim]," but he concluded by saying that "[i]t was his [Brady's] idea to hold him up and not mine and it was his idea to strangle him; I wanted to shoot him." The statement was excluded by the trial court upon objection because it was not signed by Boblit. Later on in the trial Boblit testified -- as he had originally stated in his signed statements -- that Brady had strangled William Brooks and that the unsigned statement was "not true."
The unsigned statement was in the possession of the State when Brady was tried, but it was not offered in evidence; nor was counsel for Brady then informed of its existence. Brady claims he did not know anything about the statement until after his conviction had been affirmed by this Court. It came to the attention of one of Brady's counsel when he was reviewing the transcript of Boblit's trial preparatory to making a clemency plea to the Governor on behalf of Brady. When requested, in October of 1959, a copy was supplied by the State.
On November 12, 1959, using the unsigned statement as
the sole basis for his motion, Brady moved the court to "set aside the verdict and the sentence and to grant him a new trial" on the ground that "evidence material to his defense ha[d] been newly discovered since his trial." When the trial court denied the "motion for a new trial" for the reason that it had found "nothing in the trial of the case, or in any matter subsequently submitted to the court which was prejudicial to the rights of the defendant Brady," this appeal was taken.
Brady, asserting denial of his constitutional right to due process, contends that his conviction of murder in the first degree was vitiated by the failure of the State to disclose the unsigned statement either before or at his trial. On the contrary, the State, claiming that the statement could not have been used as evidence for any purpose on behalf of Brady even if it had been known to him, contends that failure to disclose the statement -- which had not been ...