State’s High Court Reverses Area Rape Decision

BERLIN — Three months after the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly voted to reverse a Maryland Court of Appeals opinion on a landmark case rooted in a Lower Shore rape dating back to 2003, the state’s highest court last week reversed its own opinion and agreed state law closely follows the Fourth Amendment.
In June, a divided Supreme Court voted to reverse a Maryland Court of Appeals decision that a DNA sample collected from a Salisbury man in 2009 and later used to connect him to a brutal unsolved rape in 2003 was unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. Last month, the Maryland Court of Appeals took up the issue again and ruled in favor of the questioned DNA collection, opining the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Fourth Amendment was consistent with the Maryland Declaration of Rights, essentially bringing closure to the case that began in Wicomico County Circuit Court and traveled all the way up to the Supreme Court and back again.
In 2009, Alonzo Jay King, Jr. was arrested for assault in Salisbury, and as part of the booking process, a DNA sample was taken with a swab of his cheek. That DNA sample connected King to an unsolved rape case in Salisbury dating back to 2003. In July 2010, King was found guilty of first-degree rape for the 2003 incident during which he broke down the door of a residence in Salisbury armed with a gun and wearing a mask and sexually assaulted a 52-year-old female victim.
King was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but quickly appealed the verdict and sentence, arguing the DNA sample collected in 2009 violated his constitutional right against unreasonable searches.
After working through the local and state courts, the U.S. Supreme Court took up the issue and opined King’s Fourth Amendment rights were not violated by the DNA sample taken that connected him to the unsolved Salisbury rape case in 2003. The Maryland Court of Appeals last week ruled the Supreme Court’s decision on the Fourth Amendment issue was consistent with the Maryland Declaration of Rights, effectively closing the case. King has now exhausted his appeals and will serve the life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Perhaps more importantly, law enforcement agencies in Maryland will now be able to collect DNA samples from certain arrestees and use the information to connect them to unsolved crimes.