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Judge rules that N.Y. man is entitled to re-sentencing

July 29, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

A Maryland appeals court judge ruled that a New York man serving 45 years in prison on charges stemming from a 1998 shooting on Jonathan Street deserves a second sentencing hearing because a judge made comments that since have been ruled impermissible by Maryland's highest court.

A jury in July 1999 convicted Nikki James, 30, on attempted second-degree murder and seven other charges related to the shooting of a 19-year-old on Jan. 12, 1998.

In September 1999, Washington County Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone sentenced James to the maximum penalty for attempted second-degree murder, 30 years, and to an additional 15 years for use of a handgun in a crime of violence. James also received a 20-year sentence for first-degree assault, but it was to be served concurrently.

According to the opinion by Maryland Court of Special Appeals Judge James A. Kenney III, Boone said: "(W)e have to send a message, not only to people in this community, but we gotta send a message to people in New York, stay where you are, do not come down here, we don't want you selling drugs in our community ..."

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Neither the Washington County State's Attorney's Office nor James' lawyers said the shooting was drug-related, Kenney wrote. Applying a 2001 opinion by the state's high court, the Court of Appeals, Kenney vacated James' sentence and sent the case back to Washington County Circuit Court for re-sentencing by a different judge.

Kenney ruled that the convictions would stand, but a hearing date has not been set.

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