EASTON — David Faulkner, whose 2001 murder conviction in the case of an Easton woman’s 1987 stabbing death was overturned earlier this year, has been denied pretrial home detention after Talbot Corrections Director Terry Kokolis rejected the court’s order to release him.
In a July 2 letter to Talbot Circuit Judge Stephen Kehoe — who granted Faulkner’s pretrial release in June — Kokolis attributed his rejecting the order to his department’s inability to “safely” provide “acceptable supervision” of Faulkner at his parents’ out-of-county home in Ridgely, where Faulkner was set to be held and GPS-monitored.
Before Kokolis’s denial, Faulkner was set to be released to home detention, electronically monitored and required to check in with a supervisor five days a week, according to court documents.
Faulkner, now 55, has been in prison for nearly 20 years after a jury found him guilty in 2001 of murdering Easton resident Adeline Wilford, 64, and burglarizing her home in 1987.
Faulkner’s murder conviction, and that of his alleged accomplice Jonathan Smith, was overturned by the Maryland Court of Appeals in April 2020 based on an introduction of new evidence. His and Smith’s cases were sent back to the Talbot County Circuit Court with orders for new trials.
Kehoe, during a June 19 bail review for Faulkner, determined Faulkner was eligible for pretrial release while he awaited a retrial of his case — but the final decision was in Kokolis’s hands. Nearly three weeks following the court’s order, the corrections director denied Faulkner’s release and requested that Kehoe reconsider his ruling.
Kokolis’s letter to Kehoe detailing his decision came after Kokolis appeared to indicate in email correspondence with Faulkner’s attorney, John Chesley, that he would authorize Faulkner’s release.
The corrections director acknowledged in a June 24 email to Chesley that his deciding to release Faulkner “goes counter to what is codified practice in all 23 Maryland counties” — which, he said, is to deny pretrial release to detainees accused of committing violent crimes.
In response to Kokolis’s subsequent rejection of Faulkner’s pretrial release, Chesley requested an emergency hearing and filed a motion that the court enforce its order. In court documents obtained by The Star Democrat, Chesley called Kokolis’s actions “defiant” and “flawed,” and said the corrections director is “depriving [Faulkner] of his liberty.”
“Everyday that passes is a day that Mr. Faulkner is detained in a jail cell after the Court has ordered he is eligible to return home ...” the attorney wrote in the documents.
Chesley argued that Kokolis’s rejection of the order was “founded on the errant presumption that persons charged with crimes of violence are ineligible as a class for pretrial release.” That assertion, he said, “is without support in, and indeed is directly contradicted by, the law of Maryland.”
Faulkner’s attorney also cited his client’s risk assessment he said the Talbot County Department of Corrections performed using a validated risk assessment tool. The tool calculated Faulkner’s risk score as “5 points,” which Chesley said would qualify him for “non-supervised release.”
The “Talbot County Pretrial Risk/Needs Assessment” calculates inmates’ eligibility for release using four categories: “no recommendation” for charges of violent crime, “non-supervised release” for scores of five points or fewer, “supervised release” for scores between six and 13 points, and “detain” for scores of 14 points or higher, according to court documents.
A pretrial coordinator evaluates the inmate under review for release and scores the individual’s eligibility based on the seriousness of the accused’s charge(s), as well as other contributing factors.
Chesley said in June that Faulkner has not been issued “a single disciplinary infraction over 20 years of wrongful incarceration,” and a “debilitating knee injury” has left him in “no physical shape to harm anyone.”
Kokolis, in his letter to the judge, mentioned a risk assessment as being a factor in whether his department decides to authorize inmates’ pretrial release, but he made no mention of Faulkner’s individual risk score to justify his decision in Faulkner’s case.
“As the Director, I question the recommendation of our Pretrial Case Manager who offered Electronic Monitoring as an option,” Kokolis wrote.
The corrections director said his recommendation in Faulkner’s case is to “detain and not release Mr. Faulkner under any conditions requiring supervision by the Department of Corrections.”
In a July 2 email in which Kokolis informed Chesley of his decision, Kokolis said he had met with the judge that day and Kehoe had “indicated that a hearing would be scheduled in the near future relating to this case and Mr. Faulkner.”
As of Tuesday, July 14, no further proceedings had been scheduled in Faulkner’s case, online court records show.