BERLIN — A Salisbury man, convicted last year on multiple counts of assault after leading police on a high-speed chase in the wrong direction on Route 113, had his appeal denied this week.
Last August, a Worcester County jury found Garland Moss, 51, guilty of multiple counts of second-degree assault after he fled from police northbound on Route 113 in the southbound lanes for over five miles at speeds topping 100 mph, causing numerous motorists to veer off the highway in order to avoid a head-on collision. Moss was sentenced to over 17 years combined for the various counts, but quickly filed an appeal.
Moss’ appeal asserted the state failed at trial to prove the fairly rare second-degree assault of the intent to frighten type. Because Moss sped up Route 113 toward Berlin in the wrong direction at speeds over 100 mph, the state asserted at trial Moss had committed second-degree assault with intent to frighten the numerous motorists forced to swerve off the roadway in fear of injury or death.
However, Moss asserted the state did not sufficiently produce evidence to that effect during trial. The Court of Special Appeals this week issued an opinion the state did produce sufficient evidence to prove the second-degree assault with intent to frighten counts and denied Moss’ appeal.
“In challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, Mr. Moss claims the state failed to prove that he had the specific intent to frighten the victims,” the opinion reads. “There was sufficient evidence that Mr. Moss intentionally created a zone of danger for the other vehicles, and having created this zone of danger, the jury could reasonably conclude that Mr. Moss intended to place everyone in the zone of danger in fear of immediate harm, even if he did not know the identity of each individual driver.”
On October 27, 2017, Moss stole a flat-screen television from the Wal-Mart in Pocomoke, causing Pocomoke Police to give chase as the suspect fled the scene in a vehicle. Pocomoke Police pursued Moss’s vehicle as it headed north on Route 113 toward Berlin. Pocomoke Police dropped their chase efforts when Moss traveled out of the municipality’s jurisdiction and the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office took up the pursuit.
Moss’s vehicle headed north on Route 113 in the southbound lanes for several miles with speeds reaching in excess of 100 mph with Worcester County Sheriff’s deputies in pursuit. By then, the Worcester County call center had received multiple 911 calls reporting they had nearly collided head-on with Moss’s vehicle as the high-speed chase continued in the southbound lanes of Route 113. Callers reported Moss’s vehicle was weaving in and out of traffic at a high rate of speed, causing motorists to veer out of his path to avoid being hit head-on.
Finally, Worcester County Sheriff’s deputies were able to disable Moss’s vehicle by blowing out its tires, but Moss continued to travel north in the southbound lanes. By then, the chase had covered 16 miles from where it began in Pocomoke before Moss’s vehicle burst into flames. Sheriff’s deputies were able to extricate Moss from the burning vehicle when it came to rest on the shoulder of Route 113 in the area of the Worcester County Technical High School.
Moss was charged initially with theft from the Wal-Mart incident, along with fleeing and eluding. However, because of the dangerous nature of the high-speed chase against oncoming traffic headed in the opposite direction along with the dangers caused to the sheriff’s deputy pursuing him, the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office also pursued second-degree assault charges against Moss. It was a unique approach in that some of the victims in the case were essentially the nameless John Does and Jane Does who placed 911 calls about Moss’s daring run through Worcester County.
In its opinion this week, the Court of Special Appeals asserted the second-degree assault-intent to frighten convictions against Moss as to the unnamed John and Jane Does should stand.
“Mr. Moss also claims that the state failed to prove that he had the apparent present ability to bring about physical harm from the viewpoint of the John and Jane Doe victims because no John or Jane Doe victim ever testified to such frightening,” the opinion reads. “However, a victim’s state of mind can be proven circumstantially even if the victim does not testify.”
The high court’s opinion asserts the county sheriff’s deputy’s dashcam evidence supported that conclusion.
“The state introduced the detective’s dashcam video, which showed multiple people swerving to avoid a collision and a recording of multiple 911 calls from people who had observed Mr. Moss driving toward them at a high rate of speed,” the opinion reads. “Therefore, we are persuaded that the state presented sufficient evidence that the John and Jane Doe victims were aware that Mr. Moss had the apparent ability to cause them harm.”