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Defense to submit plan for Skype hearing in Panera robbery case

Stanley Oluwasen Shyngle
Stanley Oluwasen Shyngle(HANDOUT)

Carroll County Circuit Court may have its first hearing conducted via Skype next month if attorneys can work out the logistics in time.

The defense for 24-year-old Stanley O. Shyngle, who has been held since October and charged in connection with the armed robbery of Eldersburg's Panera Bread, asked Judge Fred S. Hecker to consider allowing a potential expert witness to testify via video conference at a hearing in May to avoid the cost of flying the man from Montana.

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The hearing would determine whether voice expert Al Yanovitz should be permitted to testify to his findings about the reliability of identification of Shyngle by his voice.

Shyngle, a former employee of the Panera, was identified as a suspect after the victims of the Sept. 26 armed robbery identified him from his voice.

Defense attorney Andrew Ucheomumu said his client could not afford to fly Yanovitz to Maryland for the hearing and did not see why his client should have to bear that burden.

"I'm willing to entertain a plan that will ensure the integrity of the process," Hecker said, requesting that Ucheomumu submit a plan by April 23.

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Adam Wells said conducting the hearing through a video conference would be difficult because the state will not be able to show Yanovitz's exhibits, particularly documents, or allow him to clearly identify them and answer questions.

Hecker said there may be a might to scan and transmit documents securely, but Wells said the process could be cumbersome and unreliable, citing the court's technical difficulties doing video bail reviews, and those are broadcast from the detention center across the street.

It is the defense's obligation to find a way to make a video conference happen, Hecker said. After Ucheomumu submits his plan, prosecutors have 10 days to respond, and Hecker will make a final determination.

Prosecutors also argued at Friday's hearing that the opinion Yanovitz would testify to is not admissible under Maryland law.

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Assistant State's Attorney R. Aron Benjamin said the documents received by the state indicate Yanovitz will testify to a blanket opinion that prior familiarity with the speaker will not affect later recognition of a voice.

Hecker pointed out that it would not be timely for him to rule on the admissibility of an expert opinion before the hearing where it is determined whether the expert will even be allowed to testify.

"I think the cart is somewhat before the horse on this issue," Hecker said.

Benjamin also argued Ucheomumu has not provided the required information about another expert witness, including a resume and potential testimony.

Ucheomumu responded that he provided information as required and that prosecutors did not contact him to discuss any issues before filing a motion to compel him to provide the documents.

"If they want to discuss it, they have my number," he said.

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Ucheomumu said he has not provided prosecutors with what he expects the expert to testify to because he just got the state's expert report and his expert hasn't had a chance to review it.

Ucheomumu also objected to the state's sending him a subpoena demanding he provide documents, calling it improper procedure.

Hecker agreed that the subpoena was not the correct course of action but also asked Ucheomumu to give prosecutors the remaining information about his expert's testimony in a timely manner.

The next hearing is scheduled for May 14, according to electronic court files. A five-day jury trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 10.

410-857-7898

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