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Baldwin v. State

Decided: October 11, 1961.

BALDWIN
v.
STATE



Appeal from the Circuit Court for Prince George's County; Marbury and Powers, JJ.

Brune, C. J., and Henderson, Hammond, Prescott and Horney, JJ. Brune, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court.

Brune

The defendant was indicted on a charge of murdering his wife. He pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.

In response to issues the jury found him sane at the time of the commission of the offense and sane at the time of trial, and it returned a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree, without capital punishment. The defendant was sentenced to imprisonment for life (in accordance with Code (1957), Art. 27, Sec. 413), and he appeals from the conviction and sentence.

No issue is raised on this appeal with regard to the finding of sanity at the time of trial. The primary contention of the defendant-appellant here is that the trial court improperly excluded testimony of two lay witnesses relevant to the issue of insanity at the time of the offense. He also contends that the trial court erred in admitting, over objection, four photographs of the deceased taken at the scene of the shooting shortly after it occurred and before the body had been moved.

We shall take up the matter of the photographs first. The defendant claims that they were inflammatory in nature. The State urged that they were merely representations of the actual scene, and also offered them for the purpose of identifying the body as that upon which a doctor performed an autopsy. The doctor was later called as a witness and was shown only one of the four photographs for purposes of identification. The photographs were in black and white and there was nothing to show any distortion of focus or position. As the senior trial judge observed, it was "not a very pleasant scene" and "[s]ome of them [the photographs] may be distasteful, but I don't think this adds much one way or the other." We find no error in the admission of these photographs. The matter is one within the discretion of the trial court and there is nothing to show any abuse of discretion. Cook v. State, 225 Md. 603, 608, 171 A.2d 460, 463.

The appellant's defense was insanity at the time of the commission of the offense. The evidence is ample to show that he went to his wife's place of employment, a delicatessen restaurant, at about 2 P.M. on the day of the shooting, that he asked her to sit down with him at a table in a booth, that he then used a .22 calibre pistol to shoot her five times, that he had purchased the pistol and shells on the day of the shooting, that

he had gotten a friend or acquaintance in a nearby tavern to load it for him for the stated purpose of shooting squirrels, that he had gone from the tavern to the restaurant just before the shooting, that he had returned to the tavern immediately afterwards, and that he was there arrested and turned the pistol over to the police without objection. There was also testimony that he stated to the police that his wife had been running around with other men, that he had decided the night before the shooting to kill her and that he might "get the chair" for what he had done, but that it was worth it.

The defendant was examined by two psychiatrists, Dr. Prado, the Director of Correctional Psychiatry of the Department of Mental Hygiene, and Dr. Fagan, a private psychiatrist of his own selection. Both agreed that he was a passive-aggressive type of personality. Dr. Prado considered him sane and Dr. Fagan considered him insane at the time of the offense, each of them applying the M'Naghten rule, which was adopted by this Court in Spencer v. State, 69 Md. 28, 13 A. 809, and has been consistently followed since that decision. Watts v. State, 223 Md. 268, 270-271, 164 A.2d 334; Lipscomb v. State, 223 Md. 599, 602, 165 A.2d 918.

The appellant himself testified that he remembered nothing from the time when he purchased the pistol and shells until the night of the shooting, when he was talking with the undertaker. Dr. Fagan's opinion was that the defendant had been insane at the time of the shooting, that as a result of his intense repression of hostile feelings towards his wife and damming back aggressive action, he had reached a breaking point during which there was a complete loss of memory for a rather short period of time. Dr. Fagan was of the opinion that at the time of the shooting the defendant had had a disassociative reaction and that he was then insane. We understand the doctor's testimony to indicate that the period of insanity was brief -- a matter of not more than a few hours ending in the afternoon after the police had interrogated him and he had made ...


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