A person may be convicted of the felony of child abuse under Md. Ann. Code art. 27, § 35A(a) as a principal in the first degree upon evidence legally sufficient to establish that the person (1) was (a) the parent of, or (b) the adoptive parent of, or (c) in loco parentis to, or (d) responsible for the supervision of a minor child under the age of 18 years, and (2) caused, by being in some manner accountable for, by act of commission or omission, abuse to the child in the form of (a) physical injury or injuries sustained by the child as the result of (i) cruel or inhumane treatment, or (ii) malicious act or acts by such person, or (b) any act or acts by such person involving sexual molestation or exploitation whether or not physical injuries were sustained.
A three-month-old infant died as a result of physical injuries inflicted by his mother. The abuse by the mother occurred while the mother and infant were staying in defendant's home. Defendant was present in the home during the incident. Defendant was subsequently charged in a nine-count indictment. Following a bench trial, defendant was convicted of child abuse in violation of Md. Ann. Code art. 27, § 35A and misprision of felony under common law. Defendant sought review, and the court of special appeals reversed the child abuse conviction but affirmed the misprision of felony conviction. Defendant and the State then petitioned for certiorari with the court.
Should the defendant be found guilty of child abuse and misprision of felony?
The court found evidentiary insufficiency with respect to the conviction for child abuse, both as a principal in the first degree and as a principal in the second degree, so that the judgment of the trial court on the evidence was clearly erroneous. As to the conviction for misprision of felony, the court held misprision of felony was not a chargeable offense, and, thus, dismissal of that charge was required.