Police have arrested and charged a 27-year old Prince George’s County man for allegedly hitting a woman with his car. The incident occurred in a fast food restaurant parking lot in Howard County, and most of the it was caught on the restaurant’s security cameras. The footage appears to show a woman exiting a white Audi SUV shortly before the SUV drives off. The woman walks toward a pickup truck in the parking lot, which then blocks the camera’s view of her. Less than a minute later the SUV returns to the parking lot and accelerates toward the parked pickup truck where the woman was last seen. The SUV slams into the side of the white pickup truck and then the woman again appears on camera lying down in front of the pickup truck. At first the driver of the pickup truck hastily leaves his car to avoid being injured himself, but then returns to render aid to the woman before police and EMS are called. The white SUV flees the scene at a high rate of speed shortly after striking the pickup truck.
An arrest warrant was issued for the suspect 3 days after the incident, and he was taken into custody in Washington D.C. 4 days after the arrest warrant became active. The next day he was brought before a district court judge for a bail review, but the hearing was postponed and he was held without bond until 3 days later when the he had an attorney present to argue for release. The judge was not swayed and the defendant remains in custody on charges including attempted first-degree murder, assault in the first and second degree, kidnapping and reckless endangerment. A preliminary hearing is set for the case next week, but it will likely be transferred to the Circuit Court for Howard County prior to the preliminary by way of indictment or the filing of a criminal information.
Attempted first-degree murder is the most serious offense that the defendant will face, and it is no surprise the judge decided to hold him without bail. Under Maryland law first-degree attempted murder carries a potential sentence of life in prison, while first-degree assault carries a 25-year maximum penalty and kidnapping a 20-year maximum penalty. Reckless endangerment, which is defined as engaging in conduct that creates a substantial risk of death or serious injury to another, is a misdemeanor with a 5-year maximum penalty. While it may seem excessive to charge the defendant with attempted first-degree murder under these facts unless the victim suffered life threatening injuries, the reality is that the state is not required to prove any type of injury in a Maryland attempted murder case. All that is required is for the state to prove that the defendant intended to kill the victim, had the ability to kill the victim and took a substantial step toward killing the victim. Most attempted murder cases involve shootings and stabbings, as these acts are easy for the state to establish ability to kill and taking a substantial step toward killing, provided they can properly identify the defendant and self-defense is not an issue. Automobile attempted murder cases are less common, as it may be difficult for the state to prove the defendant actually intended to kill. While it’s to argue that a person driving an SUV at a pedestrian did not have the ability to kill, and hitting someone is certainly a substantial step, intent to kill rather than injure is not as clear. In most Maryland cases where a driver intentionally hits a person with their car the state ends up focusing on first-degree assault, where they must only prove the defendant intentionally caused or attempted to cause serious bodily injury to another.
The Blog will continue to follow this case and other cases that present interesting legal issues. Benjamin Herbst is a Florida and Maryland criminal defense lawyer who specializes in attempted murder, first-degree assault, and reckless endangerment cases in all jurisdictions including Howard County, Prince George’s County, the Baltimore and D.C. Metro areas and the entire Eastern Shore. Benjamin also specializes in second-degree assault and domestic assault cases throughout Maryland and Florida. Contact Benjamin anytime for a free consultation at 410-207-2598.