JONATHAN D. SMITH
STATE OF MARYLAND
Court for Talbot County Case No. 20-K-00-6884
Meredith, Graeff, Reed, JJ. [*]
January 5, 1987, 64-year-old Adeline Wilford was stabbed to
death in the kitchen of her farmhouse. The investigation
stalled for years, but on March 1, 2001, a jury in the
Circuit Court for Talbot County convicted Jonathan D. Smith,
appellant, of felony murder and daytime housebreaking. The
circuit court subsequently sentenced him to life
10 years later, after appellant's effort to reverse his
convictions by appeal and post-conviction relief were
unsuccessful, the Innocence Project in New York filed
Maryland Public Information Act ("MPIA") requests
regarding this case. Based on information received from those
requests, appellant filed a Petition for Writ of Actual
Innocence and a Motion to Reopen Post-Conviction
Proceedings. The circuit court denied
both the petition and the motion.
appeal, appellant presents several questions for this Court's review, which we have
consolidated and rephrased, as follows:
1. Did the circuit court abuse its discretion in denying
appellant's Petition for Writ of Actual Innocence?
2. Did the circuit court abuse its discretion in denying
appellant's Motion to Reopen Post-Conviction Proceedings?
reasons set forth below, we shall vacate the judgments of the
circuit court and remand for further proceedings.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Murder of Adeline Wilford
January 5, 1987, at approximately 3:00 p.m., Jack Ripley, Ms.
Wilford's friend, discovered Ms. Wilford's body in
her kitchen and called the police. Ms. Wilford had been
photographed by her bank's security system driving her
car through the bank drive-through that day at 2:10 p.m., and
therefore, the murder appeared to have been committed at some
point in the 50-minute period of time between when she left
the bank and when her body was found.
State Police ("MSP") officers responded to the
scene shortly after the call. A window on the west side of
the house was propped open with a stick. The police believed
that entry to the home had been made through that window,
which led to a utility room.
the police entered the house, they saw that the keys to the
house were still in the door lock, and Ms. Wilford was lying
face up on the floor. She was wearing a blue coat, and she
had a set of glasses on a cord around her neck. There were
numerous stab wounds to her hands and face, and a large
butcher knife with an eight-inch blade was "shoved right
through the side of [her] cheek and head." There were
groceries on the kitchen table that had not been taken out of
the bag, which suggested that she had surprised someone in
officers performed a sweep of the house to ensure that no one
else was inside. Items inside the home seemed "out of
place, " and dressers were opened with "stuff taken
out, " which suggested that "someone had broken
into the house and was looking for money or other
goods." The police lifted fingerprints and palm prints
from various places in the house, including the outside of
the utility room window and the washing machine in the
number of items were missing from Ms. Wilford's
residence, including the tan pocketbook that Ms. Wilford was
seen carrying that day, Ms. Wilford's custom-made diamond
and sapphire ring, and her wallet containing credit cards and
an undetermined amount of cash. The police did not recover
any of these items.
number of years passed and the murder investigation had
stalled, the victim's son, Charles Curry Wilford,
encouraged the police to reopen the investigation. He offered
a reward of $10, 000 for information leading to the arrest of
the perpetrator(s) and an additional $15, 000 if there was a
John Bollinger met with Beverly Haddaway on January 14, 2000,
and she told him that her nephew, appellant, and two others
had committed the crime. Ms. Haddaway stated that,
approximately two years after the incident, appellant
confessed to her that he had killed Ms. Wilford.
Haddaway agreed to wear a "wire" and
surreptitiously record appellant. On April 11, 2000, she
recorded a conversation with appellant that occurred in a
shed behind her house. During that conversation, Ms. Haddaway
asked appellant about the day she saw him on "Kingston
Road when that old woman got murdered and you told me the dog
bit ya and you stabbed it." She asked who killed the
woman. After appellant initially stated, while laughing, that
he did not know,  the following
[BH:] Why were you in that field with blood all over ya? And
they take, I seen ya goin' up the road that day, you know
it? And you had a blue coat on and Ray [Andrews] and you both
had huntin' hats on. And then when I come back by there
and you were in that cornfield and you said that blood come
off a dog, but I think that you held her and David [Faulkner]
killed her or one of you three done it.
[JS:] They never found out yet have they?
[BH:] I know, that's why I want to know 'fore I die.
I seen ya, did I ever tell anybody? You know I ain't
gonna tell on ya, goddamn, you're my blood. I just wanted
to know if you done it. I didn't really think you did. I
think crazy David did.
[JS:] It's a secret. It's a secret when one person
knows[.] It aint [sic] a secret when two people know.
[BH:] Well, the three of you know.
[JS:] Right, there's only two left.
[BH:] It was you and Ray and David.
[JS:] Ray wasn't there until after it was over.
[BH:] Where was he?
[JS:] Down the road.
[BH:] Ray was right with you in the goddamn field.
[JS:] Yeah. That was after it was all done with.
Haddaway asked again who killed the victim. When appellant
responded that he could not remember, Ms. Haddaway stated:
"Jonathan, you're lying 'cause you're
laughing." The conversation continued, as follows:
[BH:] Well why do you think I would tell anybody. I ain't
told nobody in 12 goddamn years. I just wanted to know.
[JS:] (Inaudible) she had money.
[JS:] She had money.
[BH:] She had money?
[JS:] Uh huh.
[BH:] [Dick] said that he'd heard three or four times
that you had tried to get somebody to . . . . But, ah . . . .
[JS:] It's been a long time. I don't even remember it
[BH:] Oh. You know whether you done it or David done it if
Ray weren't there. I'll tell ya reason I ask. . . .
[T]his lady that lived over Ridgley . . . . told me that
David's foster mother had something and . . . the old
woman said that they had bought David out of a murder. And I
was wondering, you know, if she knew anything or did she tell
you, I just wondered if he did it or you. Tell me. I
ain't gonna tell nobody, I just want to know (inaudible).
[JS:] He didn't do it.
[BH:] You done it.
[JS:] Uh huh.
[BH:] You said you did it before. Why did you kill her? I
thought she let you in there when you went fishin'[.] . .
. What, you didn't know her?
[JS:] I knew she had money.
[BH:] You knew she had money.
[JS:] She had money.
[BH:] But you didn't get none?
[JS:] Uh huh.
[BH:] You did get it.
[JS:] Uh huh.
then stated that the men got $60, 000, and they split it
response to Ms. Haddaway's question regarding why Mr.
Faulkner had appellant's coat, appellant said that Mr.
Faulkner "got cut" and had too much blood on his
coat, so he got rid of it. Appellant then stated that both he
and Mr. Faulkner had stabbed the victim, and the conversation
continued as follows:
[BH:] [T]hat day you told me I thought no, he ain't done
it, that stupid David if he, anybody done it.
[JS:] If there's enough money I'll do it.
[BH:] Enough money. Well, it's alright if you don't
[JS:] I won't get caught.
April 25, 2000, the police brought appellant, Mr. Faulkner,
and Mr. Andrews to the Easton MSP barrack for questioning.
Appellant was advised of his rights, and although he
initially "almost seemed happy to be answering [their]
questions, " his demeanor changed when Sergeant Jack
McCauley asked if appellant and Mr. Faulkner had been
involved in any criminal activity together. At that point,
appellant "became somewhat withdrawn, dropped his head .
. . . [a]nd he became very evasive, fidgety in his
seat." Appellant denied any involvement with the murder
of a woman. He acknowledged his conversation with Ms.
Haddaway, but he claimed that he admitted involvement in the
murder because he wanted Ms. Haddaway to think that he was a
Bollinger and another officer interviewed appellant again
later that day. Sergeant Bollinger advised appellant of his
Miranda rights, giving him a copy of the form to
"follow along as [Sergeant Bollinger] was reading it to
him." Before Sergeant Bollinger asked any questions,
appellant volunteered his narrative of what had happened, and
Sergeant Bollinger listened for several minutes without
interrupting. Appellant stated that "he, David Faulkner,
[and] Ray Andrews, had gone to the residence, " and
"he and David Faulkner broke into the residence, "
but Mr. Andrews stayed outside. While appellant and Mr.
Faulkner were in the house, Ms. Wilford returned, and when
appellant "noticed her she was standing in front of him
screaming and . . . David Faulkner was stabbing her."
Appellant stated that Ms. Wilford was wearing a blue coat and
had glasses on a chain around her neck, and "she was
fighting and moving her arms about." As Mr. Faulkner was
stabbing Ms. Wilford, she fell back on appellant, getting
blood on his shirt. Sergeant Bollinger then asked appellant
if he had stabbed Ms. Wilford, and at that point, appellant
asked for an attorney.
Andrews also talked to the police. He told Sergeant Joseph
Gamble that appellant and Mr. Faulkner discussed burglarizing
Ms. Wilford's house, but he did not want to, so they told
him to stay in the wooded area. Approximately 20 minutes
after appellant and Mr. Faulkner approached the house, Mr.
Andrews saw a vehicle pull up the Wilford driveway. A few
minutes later, appellant and Mr. Faulkner ran from the house.
Appellant had blood on his shirt. The three men then ran
through woods and fields until they reached Black Dog Alley,
where they saw Ms. Haddaway driving down the road. Ms.
Haddaway asked appellant why he had blood on his shirt, and
appellant replied that he had been attacked by a dog. The
three men then went to appellant's house, where appellant
changed his clothes. Appellant and Mr.
Faulkner removed money from their pockets and divided it up.
The next day, appellant told him that the woman at the house
was dead, and Mr. Andrews should never tell anybody about it.
four-day trial began on February 26, 2001. In addition to the
evidence discussed, supra, Alexander Mankevich, a
fingerprint expert for the Maryland State Police Crime
Laboratory, testified that he did not match any fingerprints
left at the scene to any known suspects. He further explained
how a fingerprint typically is left on a surface, why
fingerprints might not be located, and the inability to
determine the length of time a fingerprint has been on any
surface. Sergeant Bollinger testified that, although
fingerprint, DNA, and hair samples were taken from appellant,
those samples did not match any of the evidence the police
had collected from the crime scene.
Haddaway testified that, on January 5, 1987, she was driving
on Black Dog Alley and saw her nephew, appellant, emerge from
a cornfield with Mr. Faulkner and Mr. Andrews. She pulled over to the side of the road,
and appellant approached her truck. His glasses were broken
and repaired with tape or a bandaid, and he was wearing a
white t-shirt that had "red dots" around the
collar. Ms. Haddaway asked him what he was doing
there. Appellant stated that he was
waiting for somebody, and he thought that person was in the
truck Ms. Haddaway was driving. When asked again what the men
were doing, appellant said that he had just killed a dog. Ms.
Haddaway called appellant a liar. Appellant started laughing
and stated: "Yes I did. I killed him cause [sic] it bit
me." He told her that he had stabbed the dog. Another
truck then pulled up behind Ms. Haddaway, and the three men
got into the truck. As Ms. Haddaway drove away, she saw a
number of police vehicles and an ambulance driving fast on
Black Dog Alley and then turning left onto Kingston Road.
Andrews testified, consistent with his statement to the
police, that he waited in a wooded area while appellant and
Mr. Faulkner went to Ms. Wilford's house, and after they
came running back, the three men ran until they arrived at
Black Dog Alley and saw Ms. Haddaway in her
vehicle. Ms. Haddaway asked appellant
what happened to him, and appellant responded that he had
been attacked by a dog. Mr. Andrews believed that someone was
with Ms. Haddaway that day, but he was "not sure if it
was a man or not." The three then went to
appellant's house. Appellant and
Mr. Faulkner did not talk about what happened, but they
pulled out of their pockets a large quantity of cash,
approximately $300 to $400. Mr. Andrews did not get any of
the money. Appellant and Mr. Faulkner never talked to him
about what occurred that afternoon. When Mr. Andrews saw a
report in a newspaper the next day, appellant and Mr.
Faulkner told him "to keep quiet."
cross-examination, Mr. Andrews acknowledged that, in exchange
for his testimony against appellant and his agreement to
enter an Alford plea to the crime of involuntary
manslaughter for his role in Ms. Wilford's murder, the
prosecutor would recommend that he be sentenced to five
years. Mr. Andrews testified,
however, that he had not been promised any financial reward
or incentive to testify.
Snow, a former Baltimore City police officer who had been
convicted of bank robbery, testified that he was housed with
appellant in the same protective custody ward at the Talbot
County Detention Center. At one point during their detention,
he asked appellant if he really killed "that
"just looked at [him] and said uh-hum." When Mr.
Snow asked how appellant killed her, appellant "had his
hand kind of just folded like if he was holding something,
" and he made stabbing motions. When Mr. Snow asked
appellant why he killed the woman, appellant stated that
"she was an old lady" who "startled him when
she came in." Appellant explained that "he was
fighting with her trying to get away" when "she bit
him, " and he then "went crazy."
Snow testified that he did not receive a plea deal or
anything else in exchange for his testimony. He stated that
he testified against the advice of his attorney because he
found what appellant said to him "appalling."
the State concluded its case-in-chief, the defense recalled
Ms. Haddaway. Defense counsel questioned her about
inconsistencies between her testimony and the police report
of her conversation with Sergeant Bollinger on January 17,
2000. Ms. Haddaway stated that a "lot of things that
they wrote down [were] wrong."
Haddaway acknowledged that she had visited Mr. Andrews in
jail. There were occasions that Mr. Andrews' lawyer was
present when she went to visit him.
Haddaway also testified that she received a $10, 000 deposit
on a $25, 000 reward for providing information that led to an
arrest. The police told her that, to get the $25, 000 reward,
all she had to do was testify, which she agreed to do
"as long as [she could] tell the truth and only the
last day of trial, appellant testified. He recalled his April
11, 2000, recorded conversation with Ms. Haddaway, but he
stated that the "whole time [he] did not ever know what
she was saying, referring to or what she was talking about or
nothing." He denied admitting to Ms. Haddaway that he
killed Ms. Wilford. Although he did tell her that "all
three got the money, " and they "all split $20, 000
apiece, " that statement was not true. He testified that
he lied to Ms. Haddaway because she kept asking him questions
"about something that happened that I had no knowledge
[of]" and "that was the only way [he] could think
of to get her to leave [him] alone."
also testified about his interview with Sergeant Bollinger.
He stated that he could not hear the recording Sergeant
Bollinger tried to play for him. Sergeant Bollinger then
advised that if he did not "come clean you'll never,
ever see your wife or your kids again." At that point,
and because Sergeant McCauley told him that he would see
appellant "strapped down and [given] lethal injection,
" he told Sergeant Bollinger that he "did it, David
did it. Ray was there. I didn't know what else to
acknowledged that he was placed in protective custody with
Mr. Snow. He denied, however, that he told Mr. Snow that he
killed Ms. Wilford or that he made "stabbing
motions" with his hand.
denied taking part in Ms. Wilford's murder. He testified
that he was not with Mr. Faulkner and Mr. Andrews at the time
because he "did not know neither of the (inaudible) at
all, neither one." He also denied seeing Ms. Haddaway on
Black Dog Alley that day.
McCauley was recalled as a rebuttal witness for the State. He
testified that he had reviewed various newspaper articles
from 1987 through 1999, and none of the articles that he
reviewed contained a description of what Ms. Wilford was
wearing when she was killed.
indicated, on March 1, 2001, a jury found appellant guilty of
felony murder and daytime house breaking.
March 13, 2001, appellant filed a motion for new trial,
arguing that "exculpatory DNA evidence was withheld from
the defense, " specifically that DNA analysis of debris
taken from under the victim's fingernails was not a match
for appellant or Mr. Faulkner. The circuit court denied the
appeal, this Court rejected appellant's claims of error
during the trial, but we concluded that the circuit court
erred in denying appellant's motion for a new trial
without a hearing, and therefore, we remanded for a hearing
on the motion. Smith v. State, No. 688, Sept. Term,
2001 (filed Jan. 17, 2002). The Court of Appeals subsequently
affirmed. Smith v. State, 371 Md. 496 (2002).
remand, defense counsel abandoned the argument regarding the
withheld DNA evidence, and instead argued that appellant had
been "set up" by Ms. Haddaway and Mr. Andrews.
Defense counsel argued that, Mr. Andrews' attorney,
Grayson Eckel, had a conflict of interest because he
represented: (1) Mr. Andrews in the criminal case regarding
Ms. Wilford's murder; (2) Lacy Janda, Ms. Haddaway's
daughter, in an estate matter addressing whether appellant or
Ms. Janda would inherit appellant's father's
property; and (3) Ms. Haddaway in a civil suit against Ms.
Wilford's son, regarding the reward money. The circuit
court denied the motion, stating that the argument that the
dual representation suggested that Mr. Eckel exercised any
influence against Mr. Andrews on behalf of Ms. Haddaway was
"conjecture." This Court affirmed. Smith v.
State, No. 1184, Sept. Term, 2003, slip op. at 7-8
(filed Nov. 4, 2004).
September 28, 2005, appellant, an unrepresented litigant,
filed a Petition for Post Conviction Relief. On April 13,
2009, the circuit court denied his petition, and this Court
subsequently denied his application for leave to appeal.
Smith v. State, No. 850, Sept. Term, 2009 (filed
June 9, 2010). On December 27, 2011, appellant, again
unrepresented, filed a motion to reopen post-conviction
proceedings, which the court subsequently denied.
for Writ of Actual Innocence and Motion to Reopen
2011, the New York Innocence Project filed MPIA requests on
behalf of appellant. A paralegal
with the Innocence Project visited MSP, and she observed a
number of "tape cassettes" in the boxes of
evidence. Upon request, and after other legal maneuvers, MSP
produced copies of the tapes, which contained several
recorded conversations between Sergeant Bollinger and Ms.
Haddaway ("the Bollinger-Haddaway tapes").
August 2, 2013, appellant filed a Motion to Reopen
Postconviction Proceeding, arguing that, "based on
newly-discovered and otherwise-suppressed evidence, "
"the State violated his Due Process rights by
withholding exculpatory evidence and affirmatively misleading
both [appellant's] prior counsel and the jury on material
issues in the case." Specifically, he pointed to his
discovery of the Bollinger-Haddaway tapes, and the
State's alleged wrongful withholding of "DNA test
results showing a foreign profile on the victim's
fingernails from which all defendants were excluded." He
asserted that these violations, in addition to ineffective
assistance of counsel, warranted reopening his case.
explained in more detail, infra, Mr. Mankevich
subsequently entered the unidentified palm prints from Ms.
Wilford's residence into the Maryland Automated
Fingerprint Identification System ("MAFIS" or
"AFIS"). He determined that Tyrone Anthony Brooks
("Ty Brooks") was the source of the palm prints
found on Ms. Wilford's washing machine and on the outside
of the utility room window.
11, 2015, appellant filed a petition for writ of actual
innocence. In his petition, and at the subsequent hearing, he
asserted three claims of newly discovered evidence: (1) the
identification of Ty Brooks as the source of the palm prints;
(2) the recorded conversations between Ms. Haddaway and
Sergeant Bollinger; and (3) statements by an eyewitness that
he saw a vehicle at Ms. Wilford's house at approximately
2:00 p.m. on the day of the murder.
circuit court consolidated the hearings on appellant's
and Mr. Faulkner's petitions and motions. The court
issued an order detailing the order of presentation, which
stated as follows:
I. Opening Statements limited to the Petitions for Writs of
II. Presentation of evidence in support and rebuttal of
Petitions for Writs of Actual Innocence;
III. Closing Arguments limited to the Petitions for Writs of
IV. Ruling by the Court on the Petitions for Writs of Actual
Innocence (or announcement that decision will be taken under
V. If the Court does not grant or defers ruling on the
Petitions for Writs of Actual Innocence and provided there is
time remaining, the Court will entertain proceedings
regarding Petitioners' Motions to Reopen their
prospective Post-Conviction Petitions starting with opening
VI. Presentation of evidence/information in support of
rebuttal of Motion to Reopen Post Conviction Proceedings[;
VII. Closing Arguments limited to the Motion to Reopen Post
seven-day evidentiary hearing began on April 11, 2016. We
will discuss the evidence as it relates to the ...