By Hunter Hine, Staff Writer
(Nov. 2, 2023) On Oct. 19, clerks of the Appellate Court of Maryland filed an appellant brief from Maryland’s Attorney General Anthony Brown that outlines the state’s objection to the dismissal of charges against Tyler Mailloux, 23, of Berlin.
Mailloux was charged as the driver in the hit-and-run that killed Gavin Knupp, 14, of Ocean Pines in July 2022.
In the brief, state prosecutors argue that Dorchester County Circuit Court Judge Brett W. Wilson made an error when he granted a motion to dismiss all 17 of the charges Mailloux faced at a hearing on Aug. 18 at the Worcester County Circuit Court in Snow Hill.
The Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office filed an appeal of the decision the same day.
Four of the 17 charges were felonies, and two carried a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. All the charges were related to Mailloux’s alleged failure to stop at the scene or report it later.
In making the decision to dismiss the charges, Wilson agreed with Mailloux’s attorney, George Psoras Jr., of Rice Murtha & Psoras LLC, in Lutherville, that Worcester County District Court had “exclusive original jurisdiction” over the first eight counts, although the state filed all the charges in circuit court.
The appellant brief provides a transcript of Wilson’s explanation for his decision on Aug. 18 of this year.
“Mr. Mailloux was charged in the wrong court,” Wilson said on that day.
Wilson said that the first eight charges, which are classified as violations of Maryland’s Transportation Code, had exclusive original jurisdiction in district court, whether they are a felony or misdemeanor, according to section he cited from the Maryland Code’s, Courts and Judicial Proceedings article.
By Wilson’s argument, prosecutors should have filed the charges in district court first instead of going straight to circuit court.
Had the case been filed in district court first, Mailloux would have had the chance to choose to bring the case to circuit court to be tried by a judge or jury, or to keep it in district court.
In the brief, the attorney general’s office disputes the decision on behalf of Worcester County prosecutors, saying that part of the same section of the law that Wilson cited actually gives concurrent jurisdiction to the district court and circuit court for the first eight charges, meaning prosecutors could have filed the charges in either court.
The brief cites a line from the law that says any charges with a penalty of confinement for three or more years or a fine of $2,500 or more are concurrent in both courts. Counts one, three, five and seven met this criteria, according to the brief. A footnote in the brief says that counts two, four, six and eight also meet the penalty threshold.
The attorney general’s office goes on to argue that counts nine through 17 also fall within the jurisdiction of circuit court.
The state cites another section of the judicial proceedings article that says that if an individual is tried in circuit court for some of the charges they face, the circuit court also has jurisdiction over any other charges related to the same incident that would have otherwise had exclusive original jurisdiction in district court.
The state argues that since the first eight counts have concurrent jurisdiction in both district and circuit court, counts nine through 17 can also be tried in circuit court since they arose from the same circumstances, even if district court would have had exclusive original jurisdiction over counts nine through 17 on their own.
“In sum, the statutory scheme, read as a whole and consistent with its plain language, explicitly demonstrates that the charges here were properly brought to circuit court. The judge erred in dismissing the information,” according to the brief.
When Wilson dismissed the charges, he agreed with Mailloux’s defense counsel that even though one subsection of the law grants concurrent jurisdiction based on minimum penalties, another subsection exempts these kinds of transportation violations from the minimum penalty rule.
The accident that killed Knupp took place on Grays Corner Road around 10:30 p.m. on July 11, 2022, when Knupp was crossing the road and was struck by a vehicle. He was pronounced dead that night at Atlantic General Hospital.