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Man awaiting new trial files transport request

June 04, 2007|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - A man whose first-degree felony murder conviction was reversed by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in April filed a petition requesting that he be transported for a bond hearing in Washington County Circuit Court, alleging that he is being held illegally at Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md.

Tyshawn Jones, 26, was convicted of murder in the March 14, 2004, shooting death of Jonathan M. Dennis of Waynesboro, Pa., who was struck by a single bullet after an armed robbery outside an apartment at Washington Gardens Apartments in Hagerstown.

Because the robbery was an act separate from the shooting, that robbery does not support a conviction for first-degree felony murder, according to the court's decision. Felony murder is a murder committed during the commission of a felony, such as robbery, burglary or kidnapping.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals not only reversed Jones' first-degree felony conviction, it also remanded his case back to Washington County Circuit Court for a new trial on the other charges based on a technicality involving a part of the trial known as hearkening.

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Hearkening is the process where a jury is commanded to listen to the clerk while the clerk reads back the jury's verdict, Assistant State's Attorney Robert Veil has said.

"It's the formal process of confirming the verdict," he said.

According to the court's opinion, which cites previous cases, a verdict that has not been followed by either polling or hearkening has not been properly rendered and recorded. Therefore it is nullified. A new trial must be ordered if the jury is neither polled nor hearkened, according to the opinion.

Jones was found guilty of several other crimes, including second-degree murder, reckless endangerment, first-degree assault, using a handgun during the commission of a violent crime, armed robbery and other crimes. He must be retried on those charges, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ordered.

Jones is entitled to have a reasonable amount of bail set while he awaits a new trial, according to the petition, filed by Public Defender Michael Allen Wilson.

The state's attorney's office has already filed a notice to bring Jones back to the Washington County Detention Center so his case can be retried, Deputy State's Attorney Joe Michael said Friday.

The case needs to be resolved, Michael said.

Officials at Western Correctional Institution would not disclose whether Jones was still being held there Friday night.

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