Court Rejects Appeal Of First-Degree Assault Conviction

SNOW HILL — A Silver Spring, Md. man, sentenced in 2019 to 20 years in jail after being found guilty by a jury of first-degree assault for attacking a woman with a metal flag pole, had his appeal denied this week.

In January 2019, a Worcester County jury found Max Schindler, now 41, of Silver Spring, guilty of first-degree assault for beating and choking a woman on a downtown Ocean City street during the summer of 2018. In March of that year, Schindler was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the first-degree assault conviction, but quickly appealed on the belief the evidence presented at trial did not support the first-degree conviction.

This week, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals denied Schindler’s appeal, opining the evidence and witness testimony presented at the trial was ample to support the first-degree assault charge. As a result, Schindler will be required to serve the remainder of his term although he has avenues for further appeal he has not yet exhausted.

Around 3:40 a.m. on June 3, 2018, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers responded to a reported active fight in the area of 12th Street. Officers located an apparent female victim who told police her boyfriend, later identified as Schindler, was angry because of an incident that occurred earlier, but there had been no fight and refused to talk about the incident.

However, OCPD officers observed the victim and found her to have several injuries including cuts, places where pieces of skin were missing and fresh blood on her knee cap and legs. OCPD officers also observed a deep scratch mark on the victim’s shoulder blade and upper back along with a red mark near her eye that appeared to be turning into a black eye, according to police reports. The victim also had deep red marks all over her neck, upper chest area and arms.

While one officer was interviewing the victim, another officer was taking detailed statements from witnesses who had observed the altercation. According to witness reports, the victim and Schindler were having a verbal argument before Schindler tackled the victim to the ground. The witnesses told police Schindler punched the victim in the face with a closed fist and then grabbed her around the neck with both hands.

The witnesses told police Schindler continued to choke the victim with both hands for about 30 seconds while he stood over her and screamed in her face. According to witness statements, Schindler then picked the victim up off the ground by her neck, bringing her back to her feet. The witnesses told police Schindler then grabbed the victim around the neck and dragged her to the opposite side of the intersection.

Witnesses told police the victim was able to escape Schindler’s choke hold and ran across Philadelphia Avenue screaming for help. The witnesses told police the victim pulled a flagpole from the ground at a nearby apartment complex for self-defense.

However, witnesses told police Schindler grabbed the flagpole from the victim and began hitting her with it as if he was swinging a baseball bat, according to police reports.

Witnesses said the flag fell off the pole and Schindler began stabbing and jabbing the victim with the end of the flagpole. The witnesses told police the victim was screaming for help and that she was in fear for her life. At that point, the witnesses interceded, grabbing the victim off the ground and walking her away toward 12th Street, which is when the police arrived.

On appeal, Schindler asserted the evidence and witness testimony was not sufficient to support a first-degree assault conviction, which relies heavily on intent to cause serious physical harm. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals this week denied the appeal, opining the evidence was more than sufficient.

“Even if the contention was preserved for our review, Mr. Schindler would not prevail,” the opinion reads. “We have stated that although the state must prove that an individual charged with first-degree assault had a specific intent to cause serious physical injury, a jury may infer the necessary intent from the individual’s conduct and the surrounding circumstances.”

In the opinion released on Tuesday, the Court of Special Appeals outlined details of the attack presented at trial as evidence of an intent to cause serious physical injury to the victim.

“Here, the state produced evidence that Mr. Schindler repeatedly pushed [the victim] to the ground, dragged and pulled her down a street while she was on the ground, repeatedly struck her with a metal object and with a lot of force and choked her for as long as 30 seconds,” the opinion reads. “The natural and probable consequence of being repeatedly and forcefully struck with a metal object and choked for up to 30 seconds is serious physical injury. We conclude that this evidence was sufficient for the jury to infer that Mr. Schindler specifically intended to cause the victim serious physical injury, and hence, the evidence is sufficient to sustain the conviction for first-degree assault.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.