- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 23, 2004

BALTIMORE — Attorney General J. Joseph Curran said yesterday that his office will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the dismissal of a case against a homicide suspect who was released from jail this week.

Leeander J. Blake, 19, was released Tuesday after the first-degree murder case against him crumbled amid accusations that his Miranda rights had been violated.

Mr. Curran, however, contends that Mr. Blake’s rights were not violated and that the case should go to trial.

“We just feel that the facts in this case do not indicate a violation of his Miranda rights, and we’d like the Supreme Court to have a chance to agree or disagree with us,” Mr. Curran said.

The state has almost three months to file with the high court.

Mr. Blake and Terrence Tolbert were charged with killing Straughan Lee Griffin, who was shot in the head Sept. 19, 2002, as he was unloading groceries from his car in a downtown neighborhood near the state Capitol in Annapolis. He apparently was run over with his sport utility vehicle as the attackers sped away.

Mr. Tolbert is awaiting trial.

Mr. Blake, who was 17 at the time, initially refused to talk to police when he was arrested and taken to jail. When a police officer delivered a copy of the charging documents listing death as a possible penalty, another officer told Mr. Blake, “I bet you want to talk now, huh?”

After the officer made the comment, a detective said police could not talk to Mr. Blake. About a half-hour later, Mr. Blake told police that he wanted to talk to them and made incriminating statements about the killing without consulting a lawyer.

In May, the Court of Appeals ruled that the incriminating statements couldn’t be used at Mr. Blake’s trial. In the ruling, the state’s highest court upheld the decision by Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Pamela North that the statements were inadmissible because they had been made after Mr. Blake invoked his constitutional right to be represented by a lawyer before talking to police.

The Court of Appeals rejected arguments by prosecutors that Mr. Blake voluntarily gave up his right to remain silent after he received a copy of the charging document.

“We believe that 28 minutes after he said he wanted a lawyer, he then willingly changed his mind and said, ‘I’ll talk to you now,’” Mr. Curran said. “And that statement, if we’re correct, should be admitted.”

Mr. Curran said he expects the case to be filed with the Supreme Court in about two months. After that, the state probably wouldn’t learn until November whether the court will hear the case.

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