In criminal trials, a defendant is judged by people who weren’t there, didn’t see what happened, and usually have little experience with the type of crime involved. What jury could resist testimony from someone who can definitively say that the defendant was guilty of the crime because they committed the crime together? The accomplice can say: “I was there, I know all the details of what happened because I participated in the crime. I’m sorry. The defendant was there and did this too.” The problem is that such testimony could be a lie motivated by the prospect of a more lenient sentence. For that reason, in Maryland, as well as in many other states, convictions may not rest only on the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice. Watson v. State, 117 A.2d 549, 552 (Md. 1955), [WARNING: the facts of some of these cases are quite gruesome, especially Watson]. In this post, I will explore what is called the accomplice corroboration rule as it has been applied in Maryland. I want to explore a bit about what corroboration is required, what is an accomplice, etc.. Continue reading
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