Krauser, C.J. Graeff, Nazarian, JJ.
Garduno Cruz, appellant, was convicted by a jury, in the
Circuit Court for Wicomico County, of first and second degree
rape, third and fourth degree sex offenses, first and second
degree assault, kidnapping, and reckless endangerment. The
court imposed a sentence of 40 years for the conviction of
first degree rape, and the remaining convictions were merged
for sentencing purposes.
On appeal, appellant raises the following question:
Did the circuit court err by not striking the testimony of
the main witness for the State?
reasons set forth below, we answer that question in the
negative, and therefore, we shall affirm the judgments of the
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
the sole issue on appeal involves the competency of a witness
to testify, we shall provide only a brief recitation of the
testified that, on May 22, 2015, she was abducted by
appellant, who drove her to a field, pulled her out of the
vehicle, and raped her at gunpoint. She described how she
struggled with appellant during the rape and eventually
managed to escape.
cross-examination, defense counsel asked whether the victim,
who admitted that she was a heroin addict, had used heroin
the day of trial. The victim responded that she had used $40
worth of heroin at 6:30 that morning. Defense counsel moved
to strike her testimony, stating: "She has used heroin
today. She could be under the influence of it now.
She has obviously admitted to using it. I don't believe
she is competent to testify due to the fact that she has been
using heroin." (emphasis added). The court denied the
motion, stating: "The witness['] . . . answers to
questions have been very responsive. She has handled herself
very well. She does not appear to be in any way under the
influence, so I'm going to deny your motion."
Rollo, an expert in forensic serology and DNA analysis,
testified that swabs taken from the victim's body
contained appellant's DNA. She also found DNA consistent
with profiles of appellant and the victim on the interior of
a condom found behind a chicken coop at appellant's
testified that he saw the victim at approximately 11:00 p.m.
on May 21, 2015, at a store along the "route" she
worked, and he accepted her offer to have sex in exchange for
$20. Later that night, his brother called, and he learned
that the victim was trying to charge his brother $80 to
engage in sexual activity. He told the victim that the price
was too high, and his brother was leaving. Appellant
testified that the victim became upset and left.
contends that the circuit court erred in denying his motion
to strike the victim's testimony. He asserts that,
"[b]ecause she used heroin earlier that morning and was
an admitted addict, one may only speculate about whether her
drug usage interfered with her ability to testify truthfully,
" and ...