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Fisher v. State
Maryland Court of Appeals
786 A.2d 706, 367 Md. 218 (2001)
In 1997 Rita Fisher, a nine-year-old child, died of dehydration and malnutrition. An autopsy revealed that Rita was neglected and physically abused before her death. Rita’s mother, Mary Utley (defendant), and sister, Rose Mary Fisher, were charged with child abuse and second-degree felony murder. At trial, the jury found Utley and Rose Mary guilty. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals, the state’s intermediate appellate court, affirmed Utley’s and Rose Mary’s convictions. Utley and Rose Mary appealed their convictions, making three arguments. First, Utley and Rose Mary asserted that the felonies that could underlie felony murder in Maryland were limited to those listed in Article 27, §§ 408 to 410 of the Maryland Code, which included arson, rape, robbery, burglary, and kidnapping. Second, Utley and Rose Mary asserted that any additional felonies that could underlie felony murder beyond those listed in the statute were limited to felonies that were recognized at common law. Third, Utley and Rose Mary asserted that if felonies that did not exist at common law could underlie felony murder, they were limited to those that were inherently dangerous to life according to the elements of the crime in the abstract, rather than the circumstances of the specific crime in the case at issue.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Rodowsky, J.)
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