An intervenor's right to react is not strictly coterminous with a participant's right to self-defense.
At the trial of defendant and a fellow inmate on assault charges, the state's witnesses contended a corrections officer was attacked by the inmate, who was subsequently assisted in assaulting the officer by defendant. Conversely, defendant and his witnesses alleged that another officer apparently grabbed the inmate from behind, without provocation, and then the other officer came to the scene and started hitting the inmate. Defendant then intervened to aid the inmate. The trial court provided an instruction to the effect that if the inmate did not have the right of self-defense, then it necessarily followed defendant was unable to claim self-defense.
Did the trial court erred when it instructed the jury in regard to the law applicable to the defense theory that appellant intervened to aid the apparent victim of an assault?
On appeal of defendant's conviction, the court held the trial court erred in not correcting its instruction, which linked defendant's fate to the inmate's culpability, because defendant's right to react pursuant to Md. Ann. Code art. 27, § 12A was not strictly coterminous with the inmate's right to self-defense.