DENTON — An unlawful detention suit for David Faulkner remains up in the air after a Caroline County judge on Friday returned the case to Talbot County, where he said Circuit Judge Stephen Kehoe should clarify his prior ruling concerning Faulkner’s fitness for pretrial home detention.

The hearing Friday was set to settle a habeas corpus petition that claimed Faulkner was being held at the Talbot County Detention Center unlawfully since Kehoe permitted Faulkner’s pretrial release in June 2020 and Talbot Corrections Director Terry Kokolis subsequently declined to release him.

Caroline Circuit Judge Lawrence R. Daniels, who presided over the hearing, called it a “fish or cut bait situation” because, he said, his options were to release Faulkner altogether or order him to remain in the Talbot County Department of Corrections’ custody within the walls of the county jail.

Daniels said he wasn’t sure based on Kehoe’s prior rulings whether Kehoe found, by clear and convincing evidence, that Faulkner is a danger to the community or a flight risk. While Kehoe granted Faulkner’s release, his prior ruling did not “sufficiently” state that conclusion.

Daniels remanded the matter back to Kehoe because, he said, “the record should be clear.” He said he could not rule on the habeas corpus petition absent clarity regarding Faulkner’s eligibility for pretrial release.

Faulkner, now 56, has served nearly 20 years of a life sentence that was handed down after a jury found him guilty in 2001 of murdering 64-year-old Easton resident Adeline Wilford and burglarizing her home in 1987.

The Maryland Court of Appeals overturned his conviction in April 2020 based on new evidence that points to an alternative suspect. Faulkner is expected to stand a retrial by jury that is set to span nearly the entire month of May 2021.

Joseph Michael, special prosecutor in the case, said Friday he does not think the remedy to Faulkner’s habeas corpus petition is Faulkner’s release. Michael said he believes Kehoe will find evidence that Faulkner is a threat to the public and therefore should remain held without bond.

Chesley said he has “full confidence Judge Kehoe will reach the right result,” but he didn’t want to speculate what that result might be.

Daniels said, “After (Kehoe) makes a ruling, and hopefully he will make a ruling, counsels can then determine whether there should be another (habeas corpus) hearing.”

No further proceedings had been scheduled in the case as of Friday evening, according to court records.

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