EASTON — Talbot County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Kehoe continued to hear evidence and testimony Thursday, April 14, in the evidentiary hearing of two men convicted in 2001 of the 1987 murder of a 64-year-old Easton woman.
David R. Faulkner, 51, of Ridgely, and Jonathan D. Smith Sr., 46, of Easton, both were convicted in 2001 of the Jan. 5, 1987, murder of Adeline Wilford, 64.
Faulkner and Smith are petitioning Kehoe for a new trial in the case. They also have submitted writs of actual innocence, because of information their attorneys say is new evidence.
Faulkner and Smith’s defense called Daniel Keene, of Trappe, to testify April 14. In 1987, shortly after Wilford’s murder, Keene told police he had seen a 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass at Wilford’s home around 1:55 p.m., the day of the murder.
Keene stated, during January 1987, he was leading goose-hunting parties for mostly out-of-town people. The party hunted on Kingston Farm the day of the murder, and the property is located down Kingston Landing Road, past the Wilford residence.
Keene said the party was hunting Jan. 5, 1987, until 10:30 or 11 a.m. After taking the geese they shot to the pickers to be cleaned, Keene said the party probably went to lunch and he returned to Kingston Farm that afternoon for a 2 p.m. meeting to set up a water blind for a hunt the next day.
Keene said he drove by Wilford’s house around 1:50 or 1:55 p.m. Jan. 5, 1987, and had driven past the property many times before, only he never knew anyone lived there until that day.
Keene said he also remembers seeing clothing on the clothesline in the yard by Wilford’s house that day, and also saw the 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, “jacked up in the stern,” or the back of the car.
“That day was kind of funny, because it was the first day I’d seen any life around there (Wilford’s house) — looked like life,” Keene said.
He said the car itself was memorable because, “she was clean, jacked up; she had chrome, whitewalls (tires).”
When Keene went to police, he said they asked him if he would be comfortable being hypnotized and he agreed to go under hypnosis to give a statement to police detectives.
Special prosecutor Joseph Michael, deputy state’s attorney for Washington County, who has been assigned to the case, said Keene was available at Faulkner and Smith’s original trials, meaning the information he provided is not new.
Michael also questioned the reliability of Keene’s memory, because Keene did not recall having anyone with him when he drove by Wilford’s home that day.
On Jan. 9, 1987, Keene went under hypnosis, and in a video shown to the court during the April 14 hearing, Keene said another person was with him in the car while he was riding by Wilford’s house the afternoon of the murder.
“I can tell you I saw more people that day than that ‘77 Cutlass,” Keene said.
Faulkner’s lawyer, John Chesley, said it was important to note Keene never received a reward for his statement.
Keene said he was never contacted following the statement he made to police while he was under hypnosis.
Lt. John Bollinger with the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office also was called to testify during the April 14 hearing. Bollinger was the lead investigator of the Wilford case for Maryland State Police, beginning in 1999.
Chesley questioned Bollinger on his interactions with the state’s key witness in the case, Beverly Haddaway, who also was Smith’s aunt. Haddaway has since died.
Chesley said, based on Bollinger’s notes from interviews with other investigators of the case, Haddaway was identified to Bollinger as an unreliable witness.
Bollinger’s notes, which were presented during the hearing, indicated investigators had informed him Haddaway was looking for favors for providing information, or was looking to “get out of trouble or get one favor up” with police.
Bollinger said those investigators had their opinions about Haddaway, but information she provided to him later turned out to be true.
Bollinger said he recorded conversations with Haddaway, when the equipment was present to do so, because she was part of an active homicide investigation. Two conversations were recorded Feb. 2, 2001, and Feb. 8, 2001, and provided as evidence during the April 14 hearing.
Chesley said, if those tapes had been available to Faulkner and Smith’s defense, Haddaway would have been impeached as a witness.
Michael said the issues of her bias, specifically that she was trying to strike a deal with police and the Talbot County Office of the State’s Attorney to get her grandson off of criminal drug charges, had already been attributed to Smith’s counsel during his 2001 trial.
Kehoe said those noted issues do not disprove controversy and the issue, he said, was whether the tapes provided exculpatory information, or evidence that someone is not guilty of a crime, for the defendants. If exculpatory evidence is found, Kehoe said he could order a new trial to take place.
Bollinger said the state’s attorney did not abandon pursuing criminal charges on Haddaway’s grandson in exchange to get her to testify in Faulkner and Smith’s trials or because she had threatened police or the state’s attorney’s office.
Bryce Benjet, an attorney with the Innocence Project and a member of Smith’s defense team, said the tapes provide information to impeach Haddaway as a witness.
“This is impeachment evidence that would have been of use at the trial,” Benjet said. “She demands favors and threatens to tell different stories ... The tapes represent longstanding, consistent and successful manipulation.”
Benjet claimed Haddaway blackmailed and manipulated police. The defense also argued Haddaway had access to police files and was present during interviews between Ray E. Andrews Sr., 46, of Easton, who was identified as the third man who participated in the crime, and his lawyer.
Andrews testified against Faulkner and Smith in 2001, and as part of a plea agreement, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
During his April 14 testimony, Bollinger said he showed Haddaway only parts of the evidence in his case file, and did so at the direction of the Talbot County State’s Attorney’s office. He said Andrews’ lawyer also showed her information pertaining to the case before she testified.
Chesley alleged Haddaway was gathering evidence and information from police files, as well as obtaining contact with fact witnesses, for her testimony.
Kehoe said he would consider the taped conversations and allowed the content of the tapes to be admitted as evidence.
“The content of the tapes can be admitted,” Kehoe said. “(The tapes) might be relevant to whether (Faulkner and Smith’s original court) proceedings were fundamentally fair or unfair.”
Chesley said Haddaway’s alleged threats were evident in a recorded conversation with Bollinger, where Haddaway said she would tell the court she had been given a psychological diagnosis as crazy, which may make her testimony less credible.
“So what? What does that have to do with anything? How is that remotely relevant?” Kehoe said. “What does that have to do with her credibility? Many people have a mental illness, but they come into court and testify truthfully.”
The hearing with continue through Friday, April 15.
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