Man Seeks To Overturn His Rape Conviction Decade Later

By Guy Leonard, County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (Oct. 23, 2008)—A man convicted of first and second-degree rape at St. Mary’s College of Maryland more than a decade ago is trying again to get a new trial; he claims his public defender did not challenge evidence used by the prosecution to convict him, nor did his attorney adequately prepare him to testify at his own trial.

Darren T. Carroll was convicted of a kidnapping charge as well in the 1996 incident. Carroll, who is now 50, has been in state prison since his conviction.

He was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years for the crime. He has always maintained his innocence.

In Circuit Court Monday, Carroll argued that Daun Weiers, who was then his attorney, did not adequately object to a state DNA report that was used in part to convict Carroll in 1997.

Weiers was successful, however, in having a prior report of DNA taken from Carroll suppressed because it was inadequate to tell whether his client was a match for samples taken from the rape victim.

The second DNA report, Carroll argued, showed the same results as the first.

“He could’ve investigated the case a lot better than he did,” Carroll said.

Carroll rejected a plea offer of 30 years in prison, according to court testimony, because the DNA report did not match his.

Carroll also argued that the state acted improperly when it seized clothing from his residence and blood from a test screening at St. Mary’s Hospital without proper warrants when he was arrested more than a decade ago that were used as evidence to convict him, according to courtroom statements by his lawyer, public defender Howard Margulies.

“It was an arrest warrant, not a search and seizure warrant,” Margulies argued. “The issue was never developed [at trial] and it didn’t address probable cause.

“His blood was taken without consent, without the presence of an attorney and without a warrant.”

But when he testified, Weiers, who admitted he did not have a completely clear recollection of all of the events from 12 years ago, said he would have discussed the results of the DNA tests with Carroll as well as the fact that Carroll would face life imprisonment instead of just the 30-year sentence if he went to trial.

Court dockets showed that Weiers informed his client of his post trial rights and had also put in a demand for post conviction relief with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

According to court records, Carroll has applied to higher courts before and his efforts for post-trial relief have been denied.

Deputy State’s Attorney Ted Weiner rebuffed the defense claims about the blood and clothing seized, arguing that Weiers had gotten a hearing to suppress the evidence but failed.

“He was in the hands of good representation,” Weiner said. “He got on the stand and said ‘I wasn’t there, I didn’t do it.’

“Everything’s been litigated; Mr. Weiers did a terrific job. The fact is that his client is as guilty as hell.”

Circuit Court Judge Karen H. Abrams said she would hand down an opinion shortly.

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