The Maryland Court of Appeals upheld yesterday the second-degree murder conviction of a Columbia man in the fatal beating of his toddler stepson, ruling that he was too late in challenging a juror's citizenship.
In a 5-2 ruling, the state's highest court said that Marcus Dannon Owens could have asked the judge at his trial to inquire about the citizenship of potential jurors when they were being questioned during jury selection.
After the 2004 trial in Howard County, one juror told authorities he had inadvertently failed to note on his juror questionnaire that he was a citizen of Nigeria -- a reason for being disqualified from serving on a Maryland jury.
The majority said a trial by United States citizens is not a constitutional right, but it is a Maryland law, said Mary V. Murphy, Howard County senior assistant state's attorney.
The dissenting judges said that Owens relied on the accuracy of answers in the juror questionnaires.
The court also refused to throw out Owens' statements to police, in which he denied killing Kevonte Davis, his wife's 2-year-old son, on July 30, 2003.