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«Tony Lamont Haile v. State of Maryland, No. 112, September Term, 2006. Opinion by Bell, C.J. CRIMINAL LAW – PROCEDURE – MOTION FOR JUDGMENT OF ...»

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Tony Lamont Haile v. State of Maryland, No. 112, September Term, 2006. Opinion by Bell,



A motion for judgment of acquittal, made at the close of all evidence in a jury trial, is a

prerequisite to a defendant’s preservation of an evidentiary sufficiency claim for appeal.


When reviewing a question regarding the sufficiency of the evidence presented at trial, an appellate court does not usurp the role of the fact-finder by re-weighing the evidence.

Instead, the Court must inquire whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.


The cardinal rule of statutory interpretation is to ascertain and effectuate the intent of the Legislature. If the language of a statute is unambiguous, a court’s inquiry as to the legislative intent ends, and the court applies the statute as written without looking to external rules of construction. A court must also review the statutory scheme in its entirety, rather than segmenting and analyzing its individual parts.


MARYLAND No. 112 September Term, 2006 ______________________________________





Bell, C.J.

*Raker *Cathell H arrell Battaglia Greene *Wilner, Alan M. (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ.

Opinion by Bell, C.J.

Raker, J., joins in the judgment only.


Filed: April 25, 2013 *Raker and Cathell, JJ., now retired, participated in the hearing and conference of this case while active members of this Court; Wilner, J., retired at the time, also participated in the hearing and conference of this case. After being recalled pursuant to the Constitution, Article IV, Section 3A, they also participated in the decision and adoption of this opinion.

The petitioner, Tony Lamont Haile, was convicted, by a jury in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, of first-degree assault, and of aggravated cruelty to animals. The Court of Special Appeals, in an unreported opinion, affirmed the convictions. The petitioner, in this Court, challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his felony animal cruelty conviction, and claims that his attorney’s failure, after the close of all evidence, to renew the motion for judgment of acquittal, made at the end of the State’s case, constituted ineffective assistance of counsel. He thus concludes that a reversal of his conviction is required. We granted his petition for writ of certiorari to consider these issues. For the reasons set forth below, we shall affirm the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals.

–  –  –

In July 2004, fifteen-year-old Daniel Sims was stabbed in the back with a five-inch knife. Sims reported the stabbing to the Baltimore County police, naming and describing the petitioner, Tony Lamont Haile, as his assailant. Baltimore County Police Officer Timothy Bowman was dispatched to the petitioner’s aunt’s house and, while speaking with said aunt at her house, spotted the petitioner, who, upon discovering Officer Bowman’s presence, fled, and continued to do so, despite the officer’s explicit orders to stop. K-9 Officer Christopher Davies and Bennie, his canine, who responded to Officer Bowman’s call for back-up, discovered the petitioner hiding in the backyard of a private residence, with his hands obscured in his waistband. Since the weapon used to stab Mr. Sims had not been recovered, Officer Davies ordered the petitioner to come out of the yard with his hands up, warning him that Bennie, the canine, would be released if he did not comply. When the petitioner refused to show his hands and remained in a position that obscured his left hand, Officer Davies again instructed the petitioner to show his hands and reiterated to the petitioner that Bennie would be released if he failed to comply. The petitioner continued to refuse to show his hands and resisted the attempts of another officer, who had arrived on the scene, to take him into custody, whereupon Officer Davies cut Bennie loose, after shouting, “Police canine, show me your hands or I’ll cut the dog loose.” 1 The canine was trained to use a “bite and hold” technique: it would bite down once to apprehend a suspect, and maintain its grip, and would release its hold only when the suspect has complied with the officer’s instructions. Using this technique, Bennie, the canine, seized the petitioner by his upper left arm. In response, in addition to struggling, the petitioner struck Bennie repeatedly on its head, inflicting a half-inch wide cut above its right eye, and causing the canine to release its grip. Subsequently, the petitioner attempted to escape over a fence, and Officer Davies ordered Bennie to seize him again. This time, the canine took hold of the petitioner’s left side. Undeterred, the petitioner continued to scale the fence, so Officer Davies ordered Bennie to release its grip, to prevent the petitioner from causing it any further injury in his attempt to escape. The petitioner was apprehended by officers on the other side of the fence.

According to Officer Davies’ testimony at trial, the phrase “show me your hands or I’ll cut the dog loose” is standard language, which all K-9 officers are trained to utilize.

At the close of the State’s case, counsel for the petitioner moved for judgment of acquittal. She argued that the injuries to the dog were inflicted in self-defense. The trial court denied this motion, ruling that the issue of self-defense was a matter for the jury. In his case, the petitioner testified that it was dark on the night in question, that he did not initially realize he was being pursued by the police, and that he only fled because he assumed he was being chased by a gang member, with whom he had previously had trouble. He also testified that, although he did try to shake Bennie off, he did not recall actually striking him.

Defense counsel did not move, or renew the motion, for judgment of acquittal at the close of all evidence. The jury convicted the petitioner of first-degree assault for stabbing Daniel Sims, and aggravated cruelty to an animal for the injury he inflicted upon Bennie. The petitioner was sentenced to consecutive terms of twenty and three years imprisonment.

The petitioner appealed his convictions to the Court of Special Appeals. In that court, he challenged, inter alia,2 the sufficiency of the evidence underlying his conviction for first degree assault, as well as the effectiveness of the assistance rendered by his defense counsel.

With respect to the latter, he focused on her failure to move for judgment of acquittal at the

The petitioner, in the intermediate appellate court, presented three questions for review:

“I. Did the trial court commit plain error in failing to instruct the jury on self-defense?

“II. Did defense counsel render ineffective assistance by failing to renew her motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of all the evidence because the evidence was insufficient to sustain appellant's aggravated cruelty to an animal conviction?

“III. Was the evidence sufficient to sustain appellant's conviction for first degree assault?” close of all evidence. The intermediate appellate court affirmed the convictions in an unreported opinion. It declined to consider the petitioner’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim, because, it concluded, the evidence at trial supported the petitioner’s convictions for both the assault and the cruelty counts. We granted the petitioner’s petition for certiorari,

Haile v. State, 396 Md. 12, 912 A.2d 648 (2006), to consider the question:

“Was petitioner denied his right to effective assistance of counsel where his trial attorney failed to renew the motion for judgment of acquittal and the evidence was insufficient to sustain a conviction of aggravated cruelty to animals?” In the interest of clarity, we will reframe the issue, addressing it as two questions: whether the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to sustain the petitioner’s conviction for aggravated cruelty to animals, and whether the petitioner’s trial attorney rendered ineffective assistance by failing to renew, at the close of all of the evidence, a motion for judgment of acquittal made at the conclusion of the State’s case.

We shall answer the first question in the negative, and hold that there was sufficient evidence to convict the petitioner of aggravated cruelty to animals. Since the petitioner’s ineffective assistance claim is entirely dependent on his sufficiency claim, we need not reach the second question. Nevertheless, we shall exercise our discretion to discuss it, see Rule 8a),3 concluding that we should decline to hold, based only on an argument, and an

–  –  –

The petitioner first argues that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to sustain his conviction for aggravated cruelty to animals under Maryland Code (2002, 2012 Repl. Vol.) § 10-606 (a) (3) of the Criminal Law Article (“CL”).4 That section prohibits a person, “except in the case of self-defense,” from “intentionally inflict[ing] bodily harm, permanent disability, or death on an animal owned or used by a law enforcement unit.” His argument rests on three premises: first, that § 10-606 (a) (3) required the State to prove, which it did not do, that he had the specific intent to inflict bodily harm on the canine;

–  –  –

second, that § 10-606 (a) (3) prohibits only serious bodily harm, a threshold which the injury to the canine in this case did not meet; and third, that, in any event, he struck the canine in self-defense, an enumerated exception to § 10-606 (a) (3).

With regard to the first premise, his specific intent argument, the petitioner posits that it follows from the fact that § 10-606 (a) (3) allows the intentional infliction of bodily harm upon an animal owned or used by a law enforcement unit in cases of self-defense, that the State is required, by that section, to prove that one accused under the statute possesses not simply a general intent to strike the animal, but the specific intent to inflict bodily harm upon it. In support of this argument, the petitioner, noting the scarcity of cases addressing the intent necessary for conviction under § 10-606 (a) (3), relies on CL § 3-202 (a) (1), Maryland’s first degree assault statute, the language of which, “[a] person may not intentionally cause or attempt to cause serious physical injury to another,” he maintains, is similar to the language of § 10-606 (a) (3). He asks this Court to look to the case law interpreting that statute. Accordingly, the petitioner cites to Chilcoat v. State, in which the Court of Special Appeals, referencing this Court’s decision in Dixon v. State, 364 Md. 209, 239, 772 A.2d 283, 301 (2001), held that first degree assault is a specific intent crime. 155 Md. App. 394, 403, 843 A.2d 240, 246 (2004). The petitioner submits that the same conclusion applies to the crime of aggravated assault on animals. Critical to his analysis is Chen v. State, 370 Md. 99, 803 A.2d 518 (2002). There, this Court explained the distinction

between general intent crimes and specific intent crimes, as follows:

“‘A specific intent is not simply the intent to do the immediate act but embraces the requirement that the mind be conscious of a more remote purpose or design which shall eventuate from the doing of the immediate act.

Though assault implies only the general intent to strike the blow, assault with intent to murder, rob, rape or maim requires a fully formed and conscious purpose that those further consequences shall flow from the doing of the immediate act. To break and enter requires a mere general intent but to commit burglary requires the additional specific intent of committing a felony after the entry has been made. A trespassory taking requires a mere general intent but larceny (or robbery) requires the specific animus furandi or deliberate purpose of depriving the owner permanently of the stolen goods.

*** “The larger class “specific intent” includes such other members as 1) assault with intent to murder, 2) assault with intent to rape, 3) assault with intent to rob, 4) assault with intent to maim, 5) burglary, 6) larceny, 7) robbery and 8) the specific-intent-to-inflict-grievous-bodily-harm variety of murder. Each of these requires not simply the general intent to do the immediate act with no particular, clear or undifferentiated end in mind, but the additional deliberate and conscious purpose or design of accomplishing a very specific and more remote result.’” Id., 370 Md. 99, 110 n.5, 803 A.2d 518, 524 n.5 (quoting Harris v. State, 353 Md. 596, 603–04, 728 A.2d 180, 183 (1999)).

Applying this analysis to § 10-606 (a) (3), the petitioner concludes that its language, prohibiting the “intentional[] inflict[ion of] bodily harm, permanent disability, or death” on a police dog, required the State to prove more than that the perpetrator possessed a general intent to strike the dog, as his actions demonstrated; it required proof, also, that the perpetrator specifically intended to inflict bodily harm upon the dog. The evidence presented at trial, the petitioner submits, fell short of this requirement, because it did not prove the latter intent. This is so, he explains, because the evidence demonstrated only that the petitioner “struck the dog not with the intent to injure the dog but in order to get the dog to remove its teeth from [his] flesh. As soon as the dog released Mr. Haile, Mr. Haile ran from the dog showing further that his actions toward the dog were for the purpose of defending and protecting himself.” The petitioner thus concludes that the State failed to prove that the petitioner possessed the specific intent required by § 10-606 (a) (3).

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