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Hall v. State

Decided: January 29, 1964.


Appeal from the Circuit Court for Prince George's County; Bowie, J.

Henderson, Hammond, Prescott, Marbury and Sybert, JJ. Marbury, J., delivered the opinion of the Court. Prescott, J., dissents.


Convicted by a jury in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County upon an information charging the crime of robbery with a deadly weapon, James Daniel Hall appeals from the judgment and sentence entered upon the verdict. He contends: (1) his arrest was illegal; (2) his fingerprints, obtained following

the arrest, constituted the fruit of an illegal arrest and thus should not have been admitted into evidence; (3) absent the fingerprints, there was insufficient evidence to identify him as a participant in the alleged crime.

At the trial, the State presented the following evidence. On the night of November 8, 1962 the Jumbo Food Store in Prince George's County was robbed. Shortly after 9:00 p.m. the store was entered by two armed men who forced one Donaldson, the manager, and one Davis, a clerk, to lie on the floor after first requiring Donaldson to open the store safe. The police were summoned soon after the robbers had left, and in the course of the investigation Officer Baxter discovered a latent fingerprint on the inside of the safe. The print was lifted and placed on a card which was subsequently filed in routine fashion in the Seat Pleasant police station. The appellant was described by Donaldson as having worn a stocking over his face at the time of the robbery, but Donaldson identified him at the trial as one of the robbers.

At this point in the trial, it became apparent to the defense counsel, not counsel on appeal, that the State would seek to introduce into evidence certain fingerprints taken from Hall at the police station some two months after the robbery. Counsel approached the Bench and explained to the court that if such was the State's intent he would make a motion to suppress the evidence of the fingerprints. The court thereupon directed the jury to retire and proceeded to take testimony on the circumstances surrounding the obtention of the appellant's fingerprints in January 1963. These circumstances relevant to the resolution of the legal issues raised here are as follows.

On the evening of January 19, 1963, more than two months after the robbery, Detective Officer Farran of the Prince George's County Police Department was on routine patrol when he was notified by radio about 7:30 p.m. that a prisoner under police guard at the Prince George's General Hospital had escaped. About a half hour later, while he was patrolling the hospital grounds, Officer Farran was notified via radio that a pedestrian had been struck (fatally it was later learned) in the northbound lane of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. He proceeded to the scene and found fellow officers Baranski,

King and Hauncher there. He was advised by the officers that the appellant Hall, together with one George Jenkins and one Valorie Jenkins, had at the time of the accident been sitting in a nearby automobile which was stuck in the mud off the traveled portion of the parkway. It appears that Valorie had previously that evening been in the hospital visiting the prisoner, who later escaped, and who was the victim of the accident.

Officer Hauncher testified that the appellant offered certain identification papers but was told it was not necessary at the time, and that he could do so at the police station. He further testified that he had asked Hall and his companions to wait and be questioned because they had apparently been witnesses to the accident. Testimony of the other officers corroborated this purpose in detaining the trio. When Hall took the stand to explain his version of what took place on the parkway, he first stated that the police officer had asked for identification and had told him that they were being held until Detective Farran arrived. On cross-examination he admitted that he had agreed to wait.

After Officer Farran had completed his on-the-scene investigation, he ordered the appellant and his companions taken to the Seat Pleasant station for questioning. This was done, and Hall was turned over to Detective Bryan for questioning. The interrogation concerned Hall's involvement in the accident and possible participation in the escape of the prisoner. Hall admitted that he had driven Valorie to the hospital, where she had pretended to be the wife of the prisoner and given him certain articles of clothing. Subsequent to and as a result of this questioning an arrest warrant was sworn out against Hall. He was charged with conspiracy to aid and also with aiding and assisting an escape, both misdemeanors under Code (1957), Art. 27, ยงยง 38 and 139, respectively. Officer Bryan testified that after the warrant had been served Hall was fingerprinted, as a routine police procedure.

As a result of this testimony, the trial court overruled defense counsel's motion to suppress. The record indicates that the court felt that at ...

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