- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 18, 2005

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — The state’s highest court has rejected death penalty appeals by a drug kingpin convicted for the killings of two persons in a scheme to prevent witnesses from testifying in a drug case.

The Court of Appeals ruled 4-3 Friday in rejecting the three appeals by Anthony Grandison.

Grandison and Vernon L. Evans Jr. were convicted and sentenced to death for the April 1983 killing of David Scott Piechowicz and Susan Kennedy at the Warren House Motor Hotel in Pikesville, Md.

Grandison was found guilty of paying Evans $9,000 to kill Mr. Piechowicz and his wife, Cheryl, witnesses in the drug case against Grandison. Mrs. Kennedy was working for her sister Cheryl that day, and prosecutors said at the trial that they thought Evans mistook Mrs. Kennedy for her sister on the day of the killings.

In the defense attorneys’ appeals, they argued that Baltimore County prosecutors suppressed evidence favorable to Grandison, that the state’s process for sentencing capital cases is flawed and that their client was not eligible for the death penalty because he did not kill the witnesses.

In the majority opinion, the four judges rejected the arguments, saying they found no evidence that prosecutors suppressed witness statements in Grandison’s case or that the testimony would have changed the outcome. They also said Maryland law is clear that a defendant convicted in a contractual murder is eligible for the death penalty.

Chief Judge Robert M. Bell and Judges Irma S. Raker and Clayton Greene Jr. dissented, focusing on the standard of proof used in determining mitigating and aggravating factors.

Judge Raker wrote that the three agreed, as they have in previous similar cases, with the defense that judges or juries at sentencing should weigh the factors by the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” before sentencing a convicted killer to death.

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