Argued: November 2, 2017
Court of Appeals of Maryland COA-REG-0025-2017
Court for Anne Arundel County Case No. C-02-CR-15-0006688
Barbera, C.J., Greene, Adkins, McDonald, Watts, Hotten,
Court having considered the motion for reconsideration
e-filed in the above-captioned case, it is this 21st day of
February, 2018, ORDERED, by the Court of
Appeals of Maryland, that the motion be, and it is hereby,
granted, and it is further
that the opinion in this case e-filed on January 19, 2018,
be, and it is hereby, recalled and a new opinion dated
February 21, 2018, e-filed simultaneously with this order
shall replace the opinion e-filed on January 19, 2018.
ELLEN BARBERA CHIEF JUDGE
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
case stems from an incident between Petitioner, Harold Eugene
Williams, and his then girlfriend, Angela Swan. Following an
altercation between Williams and Swan, Williams was charged
and later tried on seven counts, including first-degree
assault, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, three
weapons-related offenses, and posting revenge pornography in
violation of Md. Code (2002, 2012 Repl. Vol., 2016 Supp.),
§ 3-809 of the Criminal Law Article. A jury found
Williams guilty of second-degree assault, acquitting him on
the remaining charges. The following facts were adduced at
and Swan shared an intimate relationship from 2012 until
October of 2015. In the last few months of the relationship,
they frequently quarreled. Williams and Swan did not reside
together, but Swan had a key to Williams' home, kept
personal belongings there, and frequently spent the night.
Swan testified that Williams' possessed a silver handgun
and a rifle. Swan also testified that Williams kept the
handgun under his pillow, and she would typically move the
handgun under the bed when she stayed overnight. On October
23, 2015, Swan spent the night at Williams' home. The
following morning, Swan went into Williams' bathroom
wearing only a shirt. While Swan was using the second-floor
bathroom, Williams, who was on the first floor, heard
Swan's cell phone ringing. Williams picked up Swan's
phone, and saw a text message from another man, along with
messages from three other men. Williams also saw that Swan
previously sent a nude photograph to someone. With Swan's
phone in hand, Williams confronted Swan, and threw her phone
at her. Williams called Swan a derogatory term and told her
to leave. Before Swan could leave, Williams shoved her
against the bathroom wall and began hitting her body. Crying,
Swan tried to leave the bathroom but Williams threw her into
the hallway, on the floor. While Swan was on her back,
Williams continued yelling, punching, and kicking Swan's
body. Swan begged for time to get her things and leave. As
she walked up the stairs to gather her belongings, Williams
began walking down the stairs. According to Swan, Williams
threw Swan's pants at her, and held a gun to her head
while he used her cell phone to tell someone to come get Swan
before he killed her. Swan testified that Williams then
pushed her down the stairs, but she eventually got up, and
went to the first floor to get her purse to leave. Williams
came to the first floor, pushed Swan into a closet, and took
her purse, but Williams still held the gun. Swan ran up to
the second floor where she was able to grab a towel to wrap
around her waist. She also took some of Williams'
belongings with the intention of trading his things back for
hers, and left the house.
the confrontation, Swan drove to a nearby convenience store
to call 911. She told the operator that Williams had attacked
her and held a gun to her head, but that she did not need
medical attention. A police officer arrived to assist Swan.
Swan explained that Williams still had some of her
belongings, including her cell phone. The officer went to
Williams' house and retrieved Swan's cell phone. Once
Swan secured her phone, she saw that her nude photograph
posted to her Facebook account, but the police officer showed
Swan how to delete the post. The day after the incident, Swan
went to Northwest Hospital for treatment.
testified in his defense, and denied punching, kicking, or
threatening Swan with a gun. He denied that he even owned a
gun. Williams testified that after he saw the nude
photographs sent to other men on Swan's phone, he went
into the second-floor bathroom of his house and confronted
Swan. He claimed that he repeatedly told her to leave, so he
went to the first floor, opened the door, and threw her purse
outside. Williams admitted that when Swan came downstairs she
had a towel around her waist, which he tried to grab while
pushing her out of the door, but that instead of leaving,
Swan went back upstairs. Williams said he wanted Swan to
leave, so he went to the third floor bedroom and threw her
clothing down the steps, but not at her. Later, Williams went
to his front door where he saw Swan, who demanded that
Williams return her phone and indicated that she contacted
the police. Williams left and went to his neighbor, Arkina
Taylor's, house with Swan's phone. Williams returned
home, and a few minutes later, the police arrived at his
trial, Williams' attorney and the trial judge explained
to Williams that the State could use a previous battery
conviction to impeach him. The following colloquy occurred at
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: It's my understanding, and am I
correct, Mr. Miller, that you have no crimes of impeachment
that you would be willing to use against Mr. Williams?
[STATE]: I guess pursuant to the impeachment rule for prior
convictions, going towards veracity, yes.
THE COURT: So, are you saying that you have something else
that you can get in from some other avenue?
[STATE]: Well --
THE COURT: I mean if he got on the stand and denied
something, then, of course you could, but I'm
--that's not likely to come up.
[STATE]: Yeah, and I don't want to -- I will approach
before making my argument on that, and I don't want to
give my arguments away -
THE COURT: Uh-huh.
[STATE]: -- but do I have -- there is a disqualifying
offense, which theoretically could become relevant.
* * * *
[STATE]: I think there are scenarios where the door may be
open for some of his prior convictions to come in.
THE COURT: Okay. I can't conceive of that, but you may be
absolutely correct; maybe that's what will happen. And I
assume you've spoken to your client about that?
[DEFENSE COUNSEL}: Yes. Let me just break that down into
THE COURT: Okay.
[QUESTIONS BY DEFENSE COUNSEL]:
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: You don't have any convictions in your
background that the State could use as impeachment in terms
of moral turpitude, so the State cannot use any past
convictions to say, hey, you're a bad person. Do you
THE COURT: Or that he's a liar.
[STATE]: It's not just about -- ...