Argued: October 5, 2017
Circuit Court for Charles County Case No. 08-K-04-000477.
Barbera, C.J., Greene, Adkins, McDonald, Watts, Hotten,
case, we are asked to determine whether the trial court erred
in admitting the expert opinion testimony of Allen Hagy
("Mr. Hagy"). Additionally, we must determine
whether the trial court erred by admitting evidence of
Respondent Isa Manuel Santiago's ("Mr.
Santiago") silence during an investigation by his
following reasons, we conclude that the trial court did not
err in admitting the expert testimony under Maryland Rule
5-702(3). We also hold that the trial court did not err when
it admitted Mr. Santiago's failure to submit to an
examination under oath for his voluntary automobile insurance
claim as evidence of Mr. Santiago's consciousness of
guilt because the admission of this failure was relevant.
Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Special
The Murder and Investigation
the morning of Friday, June 13, 2003, LaToya Taylor
("Ms. Taylor") told a coworker that during her
lunch break she was going to meet with someone who owed her
money. Security camera footage captured Ms. Taylor leaving
her employment in Washington, D.C. and stepping into a
"box-type black truck." Ms. Taylor did not return
from her lunch break. The security footage was the last
record of Ms. Taylor seen alive. Six days later, Ms.
Taylor's body, wrapped in trash bags and with a single
gunshot wound to the back of her head, was found in a field
in Charles County, Maryland.
early morning hours on Saturday, June 14, 2003, police were
called to a vehicle fire on Spring Road in Northwest
Washington, D.C. Police officers found a black Jeep Cherokee,
registered to Mr. Santiago, engulfed in flames at the scene.
Police officers also discovered a gasoline container next to
the Jeep Cherokee. William Walker ("Mr. Walker")
told police that he witnessed a car that stopped next to the
parked Jeep Cherokee and saw a man exit the car on the
passenger side. The man then walked "up to the"
Jeep Cherokee and "either went in or was at the car
door." Mr. Walker stated that the Jeep Cherokee
"eventually caught on fire" and the other vehicle
then sped off. Following an investigation, police concluded
that the fire had been intentionally set with the use of
gasoline. Additionally, the investigation established that
the ignition of the Jeep Cherokee had not been tampered with
which led police to the conclusion that the Jeep Cherokee
must have been driven to its location by using the
approximately noon on June 14, 2003, Mr. Santiago contacted
police and reported that his Jeep Cherokee had been stolen.
Lieutenant Robert Black, a Prince George's County police
officer, interviewed Mr. Santiago at his home about the
stolen vehicle. Mr. Santiago stated that he had returned to
his home from a nightclub at 3:00 a.m. and had parked the
Jeep Cherokee on the street near his residence. Mr. Santiago
recalled that he did not notice his Jeep Cherokee missing
until he took the trash out. During the interview, Lieutenant
Black noted that Mr. Santiago was in contact with his
automobile insurance agent and that Mr. Santiago's trash
cans were still located inside the home.
the investigation into Ms. Taylor's disappearance, police
acquired information that led them to believe Mr. Santiago
was involved. Ms. Taylor and Mr. Santiago had an extensive
and turbulent relationship. Kimberly Smith ("Ms.
Smith") recounted that Ms. Taylor and Mr. Santiago met
as teenagers. Although they never married, Ms. Taylor and Mr.
Santiago were romantically associated for approximately a
decade prior to Ms. Taylor's disappearance. Ms. Smith
would later testify that Mr. Santiago and Ms. Taylor's
lengthy relationship included acts of domestic violence
perpetuated by Mr. Santiago. At the time of her death, Ms.
Taylor had a civil action pending against Mr. Santiago in
which she sought child support. Mr. Santiago disputed
paternity in this matter and later told police officers
"his wife did not know he was the father of [Ms.
Taylor's] youngest child" although Mr. Santiago
asserted that "they [Ms. Taylor and Mr. Santiago] had
resolved the child support issues." A court hearing to
resolve the child support issues had been scheduled for June
Charles Seward spoke to Mr. Santiago about Ms. Taylor's
disappearance on the evening of June 14, 2003. Mr. Santiago
stated that on the morning of Ms. Taylor's disappearance,
he and Ms. Taylor had spoken on their cellular phones. Mr.
Santiago contended that the conversation between the two
related to the child support hearing. After this call with
Ms. Taylor, Mr. Santiago stated that he took a nap until the
early afternoon, ran errands with his wife, went to dinner
with his wife in Baltimore, and then headed to a nightclub in
Washington, D.C. following dinner. During the interview, Mr.
Santiago asked Detective Seward to speak quietly because Mr.
Santiago's wife was sleeping and she disliked overhearing
discussions about Ms. Taylor because the three were involved
in a "love triangle."
evidence contradicted Mr. Santiago's version of the
events on the date of Ms. Taylor's disappearance. Mr.
Santiago's children's daycare provider would later
recall that at 4:27 p.m., Mr. Santiago called and told the
daycare that he would not be able to pick up his children due
to an emergency. Mr. Santiago's wife would later retrieve
the children. Surveillance video from a Bank of America
branch in Prince George's County showed that Mr. Santiago
used the bank's ATM at 4:31 p.m. The surveillance video
also showed Mr. Santiago exiting his black Jeep Cherokee.
Naumoff ("Mr. Naumoff") stated that at
approximately 5:38 p.m., he saw a dark Jeep Cherokee emerge
from a forested area close to where Ms. Taylor's body was
found in Newburg, Charles County. Because Mr. Naumoff worked
as a service manager at a car dealership, he was able to
confidently identify the car as a Jeep Cherokee. He was also
able to specify the time when he had seen the dark Jeep
Cherokee because Mr. Naumoff's E-ZPass clocked in at a
nearby toll booth. Mr. Santiago called a friend, Chiquita
Jenkins ("Ms. Jenkins"), at approximately 5:50 p.m.
At trial, Ms. Jenkins testified that she believed Mr.
Santiago was travelling in a car while they spoke on the
about 7:30 p.m., Mr. Santiago and his wife stopped by the
home of his friend, Paris Jefferson ("Mr.
Jefferson"), even though Mr. and Mrs. Santiago knew Mr.
Jefferson was not home. The Santiagos visited with Mr.
Jefferson's son for approximately thirty minutes before
departing. Mr. Jefferson's home was located on Spring
Road in Northwest Washington, D.C. Jamal Wilson ("Mr.
Wilson") stated that he had seen Mr. Santiago at around
3:27 a.m. on June 14, 2003, outside of a bar in Northwest
Washington, D.C. Mr. Wilson testified that Mr. Santiago was
riding a motorcycle at that time.
Mr. Santiago's Jeep Cherokee was badly damaged in the
fire, police were able to find grass fragments within the
undercarriage of the vehicle which were consistent with grass
found in the field where Ms. Taylor's body was found.
Additionally, police recovered carpet fibers on Ms.
Taylor's clothing which matched the automobile carpet
fiber samples from the Jeep Cherokee.
trial, the State's theory was that Mr. Santiago killed
Ms. Taylor on June 13, 2003 after he used the ATM in Prince
George's County at 4:31 p.m. and before the 5:50 p.m.
call to Ms. Jenkins. In support of its timeline, the State
planned to introduce Mr. Santiago's cell phone records
from June 13, 2003 to show that Mr. Santiago was located in
Charles County at the approximate time of Ms. Taylor's
First and Second Trials
25, 2004, the State indicted Mr. Santiago in the Circuit
Court for Charles County for the murder of Ms. Taylor and
other crimes associated with the murder. Mr. Santiago's
first trial ended in a mistrial on February 28, 2006 prior to
any evidence being presented. Mr. Santiago's second trial
began the next day, March 1, 2006. During this trial, the
jury acquitted Mr. Santiago of first-degree murder but
convicted him of second-degree murder, use of a handgun in
the commission of a crime of violence, and being a felon in
possession of a firearm. Following sentencing for these
convictions, Mr. Santiago noted an appeal. The Court of
Special Appeals, in an unreported opinion, reversed the
judgment of the trial court due to the failure to either
hearken or poll the jury. Santiago v. State, 183
Md.App. 770 (2008). The State filed a petition for writ of
certiorari, which this Court granted. State v.
Santiago, 407 Md. 529 (2009). In our decision, we held
that "a jury verdict, rendered and announced in open
court, that is neither polled nor hearkened is not properly
recorded and is therefore a nullity" and we remanded the
case to circuit court for a new trial. State v.
Santiago, 412 Md. 28, 32, 42 (2009).
State, on remand, charged Mr. Santiago with first-degree
murder in addition to the same charges for which he was
convicted in the 2006 trial. Mr. Santiago filed a motion to
dismiss the first-degree murder charge, arguing that the
re-charging was a violation of double jeopardy. The circuit
court denied the motion, and Mr. Santiago appealed the
judgment. In March 2013, the Court of Special Appeals held
that, although the 2006 jury verdicts were nullities due to
the failure to hearken or poll, the acquittal of first-degree
murder barred re-prosecution. Santiago v. State, 210
Md.App. 708 (2013). The State did not file a petition for
writ of certiorari.
2015, the prosecution presented its case for a third time and
a jury in the Circuit Court for Charles County convicted Mr.
Santiago on all remaining counts. The circuit court sentenced
Mr. Santiago to a thirty-year prison term for second-degree
murder, a twenty-year consecutive prison term for use of a
handgun, and a five-year cumulatively consecutive prison term
for illegal possession of a firearm. The collective prison
term totaled fifty-five years. Mr. Santiago appealed his
conviction to the Court of Special Appeals, which unanimously
affirmed the judgment ...