University of Baltimore Law Forum


Andrew Siske


The Court of Appeals of Maryland held that convicted defendants must allege that they did not actually commit the crime resulting in their conviction to be eligible to petition for a writ of actual innocence under section 8-301 of Criminal Procedure Article of the Maryland Code. Smallwood v. State, 451 Md. 290, 323, 152 A.3d 776, 795 (2017). Additionally, the court ruled that a claim of not criminally responsible is not equivalent to an assertion of actual innocence as required by the court's interpretation of the actual innocence statute. Id.

Dameron Smallwood ("Smallwood") was physically and verbally abused by his mother throughout his youth. In mid-October 1984, Smallwood was suspended from school for talking back to a teacher. Enraged, Smallwood's mother locked him in the house for several days. On October 22, 1984, Smallwood's mother finally let him leave the house, at which point he went to visit an apartment complex where they had previously lived. He knocked on the door of Madge K. Gibson ("Gibson"), a stranger to Smallwood, and claimed to be delivering a package that required Gibson's signature. When Gibson opened the door, Smallwood stabbed her ten times, subsequently causing her death.



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