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Pope v. State

Maryland Court of Appeals
396 A.2d 1054 (1979)



Melissa Norris suffered from a serious mental illness and often experienced episodes of violent religious frenzy. Joyce Lillian Pope (defendant) took Norris and her three-month-old child into her house after church because they had no other place to go. Over the course of a weekend, Pope fed them and looked after the child, but at no time was Norris away from the child. On a Sunday afternoon, Norris had a violent episode where she believed she was God and that Satan had hidden himself in the body of the three-month-old. In the presence of Pope, Norris severely beat the child. Pope did not try to intervene, did not call the authorities, or seek medical care for the child. The child died later that evening. Pope was charged with various offenses in a nine-count indictment. The third count charged Pope with first-degree child abuse while “having the temporary care, custody and responsibility for the supervision” of the infant. The fifth count charged Pope with misprision of felony under common law alleging Pope willfully concealed and failed to disclose Norris’ felony actions with the intent to obstruct justice and allow Norris to escape unpunished. Pope was convicted on the two counts, and she appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Orth, J.)

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