January 2011 Archives

January 31, 2011

Maryland Court Reverses Murder Conviction

The Maryland Court of Appeals today reversed the murder conviction of Christian Darrell Lee because the detective interrogating him lied about whether their conversation was being recorded. Lee, who had been convicted of first degree murder in 2008 and sentenced to life plus 110 years, will now be granted a new trial, because of the violation of his Miranda rights.

Brassel, Alexander & Rice's experienced Maryland criminal defense attorneys represents individuals charged with all types of criminal offenses, including individuals charged with murder.

Lee asked Detective Steve Schrott, who was interrogating him, whether the conversation was being recorded. In response, the detective said that the conversation was "between you and me, bud." The Court of Appeals found that Detective Schrott's statement undermined the Miranda warning, the well-known statement of a criminal defendant's rights deriving from the United States Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona. The Court's ruling is significant, because Lee had signed a waiver of his Miranda rights prior to the interrogation, and had begun to discuss the events on the night that he allegedly shot the murder victim.

The Court held that "[n]o reasonable lay person would have understood [Schrott's] words to mean anything other than that conversation, at that moment and thereafter, even if not before, was 'between' only Detective Schrott and Petitioner." The detective essentially promised confidentiality of the statement, which contradicted the aspect of the warning that the individual's statements can be used against him in court. Thus, the Court determined that the detective's statements had so undermined the Miranda warnings that Lee had been given that any subsequent statement became inadmissible in court.

Having representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney at all stages of a criminal prosecution is essential to protect an individual's rights. From the moment an individual is charged with a crime, he or she is at a disadvantage when facing the power of the state; an experienced criminal defense attorney can protect the rights of criminal defendants when faced with the possibility of criminal penalties.