The state attorney general's office is exploring the possibility that John Charles Glaser, the drunken driver whose manslaughter conviction in a 1989 fatal accident in Baltimore County was overturned on a legal technicality, could be tried again for the traffic death of Everett Lee Jones.
Richard Rosenblatt, an assistant state attorney general, said yesterday his office believes the possibility for a new trial exists because Glaser's conviction was overturned because of a trial error and not for lack of evidence.
"If the higher court rules that you lost because of insufficient evidence, then you're gone," he said. "You've had your shot."
But, Rosenblatt said, in cases of trial error, such as a judge allowing a coerced confession to be used as evidence, suspects can be tried again.
No decision has yet been made on whether to seek a new trial, he said. His office is researching case law to see if an argument for a new trial can be made.
In their case against Glaser, Baltimore County prosecutors mistakenly used as evidence the fact that Glaser was driving the wrong way on the Baltimore Beltway the night of June 30, 1989, when his Ford pickup smashed into a car being driven by Jones, 30, of North Point.
Because Glaser had already paid a $35 ticket for driving the wrong way, three judges of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals said prosecutors had wrongly convicted him of the "same conduct" by using the evidence at trial.
Rosenblatt believes that prosecutors have the right to try Glaser over again, as long as they don't use the driving-the-wrong-way evidence.
"It's legally possible," he said. "The question is, is it factually possible. . . . This may be a bad factual scenario to try this over again. How do you leave out the fact that he was going the wrong way on the Beltway?"
John P. Cox, the assistant county state's attorney who prosecuted Glaser, said he would welcome the opportunity to have a new trial.
"If the law permits us to try him again, we'll try him again," said Cox, who added that he feels there is sufficient evidence of gross negligence, even without the wrong-way evidence.
Cox pointed to Glaser's high level of intoxication the night of the accident. His blood alcohol level was .24, more than double the .10 level that, under state law, is considered legally sufficient to charge a person with driving while intoxicated.
"To prove auto manslaughter," Cox said, "mere intoxication is not enough. Extreme intoxication may be enough."
Norman Jones, who has launched a petition drive to prevent his brother's slayer from regaining his driving privileges, reacted by TTC saying, "Any possibility to try him again would make me happy. I'd like to see him in jail forever."
Gil Cochran, Glaser's attorney, when asked about the possibility of another trial, said, "If they're going to do it, they're going to do it. I'll be back in the arena with them.
"The state does what they feel is right and I have to do what I feel is right," Cochran continued. "I respect them. They're good people."
The way a new trial would work, according to Cox and Rosenblatt, is that after the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruling becomes final, the case would be returned to the county. There is normally a 45-day waiting period between a decision and when it becomes final, time granted for either side to make an appeal to the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state's highest court.
Cox could drop the charges or seek a new indictment. The trial could proceed, or Glaser could immediately appeal to the Court of Special Appeals before trial, citing, perhaps, triple jeopardy.