Delegates Want Suspects Jailed; 3 in Maryland to Propose Custody during Appeals

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Byline: Robert Redding Jr., THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A bipartisan group of Anne Arundel County delegates said they will introduce in next year's Maryland General Assembly a bill that would allow judges to keep suspected criminals in custody during appeals.

The proposed bill would close a loophole that forced two Anne Arundel County judges to release two murder suspects who had confessed to fatally shooting a 51-year-old Annapolis businessman last year.

"It cries out for correction," said Delegate John R. Leopold, a Republican. "It had always been my understanding that judges had wide latitude and discretion ... I was shocked to learn that this loophole exists. Clearly, it must be corrected."

Mr. Leopold said the legislation will be filed no later than early December.

Delegates Herbert H. McMillan, a Republican, and Virginia P. Clagett and Theodore J. Sophocleus, both Democrats, are co-sponsoring the legislation.

"I co-sponsored the bill because I don't think we want to find ourselves in that situation again," Mr. McMillan said, adding that the legislation "restores balance to the law."

"Right now I think the law is too heavily weighted toward the rights of the criminals," he said.

Murder suspects Terrence Tolbert and Leeander Jerome Blake were set free this year after having been detained for and charged with the slaying of Straughan Lee Griffith, 51, who was shot in the head and run over by his own Jeep Grand Cherokee during a carjacking outside his home on Sept. …