Appeal Filed In Knupp Case Following Motion To Dismiss

SNOW HILL – The prosecution has appealed a circuit court judge’s decision to dismiss the case against a local man charged with various traffic counts in the death of Gavin Knupp.

In a motions hearing last Friday, visiting Judge Brett Wilson granted a motion to dismiss the case against Tyler Mailloux in Worcester County Circuit Court over lack of jurisdiction, although he noted that charges could be refiled in district court. Immediately following the ruling, the prosecution filed a notice to appeal.

“The State is filing an immediate appeal of the dismissal and we will await the decision of the appellate court,” Worcester County State’s Attorney Kris Heiser said in a statement last Friday. “Nothing will happen with the case until that decision comes down.”

In April, 17 traffic charges – including failure to immediately stop at the scene of an accident involving bodily injury and failure to immediately stop a vehicle at the scene of an accident involving death – were filed against Mailloux, 23, of Berlin, in Knupp’s death last July.

Knupp, 14, was struck and killed by an unidentified motorist in a black Mercedes while crossing Greys Corner Road on July 11, 2022. Knupp was returning to a vehicle driven by his older sister, Summer, who tended to her brother while awaiting paramedics. Knupp died from injuries sustained in the collision. Mailloux allegedly fled the scene and did not return, according to charges filed. Six days after the incident, the Mercedes identified as the vehicle in the collision was seized from a home in the Ocean Reef community.

In circuit court last Friday, Mailloux’s attorney, George Psoras, presented 12 motions for the court’s consideration. The first, he said, was a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.

“They usurped my client’s opportunity for the case to be heard where the law said it should be heard, district court,” he said.

Psoras argued Maryland’s judicial proceedings article interpreted the jurisdictions of circuit and district court. He said the district court had “exclusive and original” jurisdiction in the matter and ultimately asked the court to either dismiss the case or transfer it to district court.

“This case belongs in district court,” he said.

Assistant State’s Attorney Pam Correa, however, argued that statute provided exceptions allowing the case to be tried in circuit court, including that the penalty for such charges exceeds three years.

Psoras last Friday also presented his motion for a change of venue, arguing that news coverage, social media posts, protests and the like prevented his client from receiving a fair trial from an impartial jury.

“That’s impossible here …,” he said. “It’s beyond impossible.”

Correa argued that of the 211 pages of exhibits presented by the defense, only 31 mentioned Mailloux by name. She added that there was no evidence to suggest news coverage influenced potential jurors or that social media posts against Mailloux were made by Worcester County residents.

“A change of venue is not appropriate,” she said.

The court hearing reconvened following a brief recess, during which time Wilson announced that someone in the courtroom had been livestreaming the proceedings and would be held in contempt of court if identified. He then went on to grant the defense’s motion to dismiss the case over lack of jurisdiction. When asked if the judge could transfer the charges to district court, Wilson said he had no authority to do so. He noted, however, that the prosecution could refile the charges in district court.

In the hours that followed, the state’s attorney’s office filed a notice of appeal to the Appellate Court of Maryland.

In a statement posted on the Do It For Gavin – Justice For Gavin Facebook page, Gavin’s father, Ray Knupp, wrote, “This doesn’t mean the charges are dismissed it simply means we have to either try it in the District Court or we win the appeal to try it in the Circuit Court again.”

He continued, “The Judge miss read the law and no one can understand why he made that ruling. We have already appealed it and will know in the next few weeks. If we have to try it in District Court two things could happen, we only have to convince a judge not a jury which is in our favor. The downside is if he gets convicted he can appeal it to the Circuit Court and we have to suffer through the trial again and take another chance that it could get overturned.”

In a statement issued this week, Randolph Rice, managing partner in Psoras’ law firm, Rice, Murtha, and Psoras, applauded the outcome of last Friday’s motions hearing.

“We are thankful the court applied the law that led to the favorable outcome for our client Tyler Mailloux,” Rice said. “Our firm’s tireless dedication to protecting the rights and freedoms of individuals in the face of legal challenges has once again yielded a just and equitable result. This success underscores our firm’s commitment to upholding the principles of fairness, due process, and the presumption of innocence in the criminal justice system.”

He continued, “We wish to extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Gavin Knupp following the tragic loss of their beloved son. We understand that this is an incredibly challenging time for the Knupp family, and our thoughts and condolences are with them as they navigate through this period of grief. We firmly believe that empathy and compassion are integral aspects of the legal process, especially in cases that involve such devastating circumstances. We understand the pain that the Knupp family is experiencing, and we want to emphasize that our commitment to providing a rigorous and fair defense is always balanced with a deep respect for the human element involved.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.