Pros­e­cu­tors dis­miss 14-year-old shooting case on ap­peal

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By CARL HAMIL­TON ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­whig.com

ELKTON — Pros­e­cu­tors have dropped their crim­i­nal case against a man who re­ceived – and served – a five-year jail term and pro­ba­tion for shooting two peo­ple who un­in­ten­tion­ally drove down the pri­vate lane of his Elkton-area res­i­dence in 2006.

As­sis­tant State’s At­tor­ney Nathaniel Bowen dis­missed all charges against the de­fen­dant, Wil­liam Louis Kranz, 60, on Sept. 15.

Rep­re­sented by Robert L. Kline III, who is man­ag­ing part­ner of the Cooke & Kline law firm, which op­er­ates of­fices in Hager­stown and Port De­posit, Kranz had suc­cess­fully ap­pealed his orig­i­nal trial and, as a re­sult, his con­vic­tions were over­turned and he was granted a new trial.

Bowen ex­plained to the Ce­cil Whig that pros­e­cut­ing Kranz again would not have been a pru­dent use of time, money and man­power — given that Kranz al­ready had served his time and pro­ba­tion af­ter he was con­victed and sen­tenced some 11 years ago. The scope of a trial in the ap­pealed case would have been lim­ited to the charges for which Kranz had been con­victed in the orig­i­nal trial, he noted.

“He al­ready has paid his debt to so­ci­ety, and now he is just try­ing to clear his name,” Bowen said, adding, “By law, we would not have got­ten a more se­vere pun­ish­ment than he al­ready re­ceived and served (af­ter he was con­victed in 2009). It would not be a good use of re­sources.”

Not­ing an­other con­sid­er­a­tion in the de­ci­sion to dis­miss the ap­pealed case, Bowen said a key state wit­ness – the Mary­land State Police de­tec­tive who served as lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor — no longer lives in this state. More­over, he added, other state wit­nesses who tes­ti­fied at Kranz’ trial 11 years ago are no longer ac­ces­si­ble.

“We would po­ten­tially run the risk of not get­ting guilty find­ings,” Bowen said, ex­plain­ing that the state’s case would not be as strong now, given the un­avail­abil­ity of cer­tain wit­nesses, than it was at trial in 2009.

Kline told the Ce­cil Whig that Kranz had been try­ing to get a new trial through the ap­peal process for sev­eral years.

“Mr. Kranz still as­serts his in­no­cence,” Kline said. “Un­for­tu­nately, the ap­peal process took so long that he al­ready had served his jail term and his pro­ba­tion, by the time his con­vic­tions were va­cated and he was granted a new trial. That is all lost time for him.”

Kline went on to say, “Mr. Kranz is pleased that the state elected not to move for­ward, be­cause it (an­other trial) would have caused more tor­ment, more an­guish, more emo­tional dis­tress for him.”

In June 2009, a Ce­cil County Cir­cuit Court jury found Kranz guilty of two counts of first-de­gree as­sault af­ter de­lib­er­at­ing 12 hours over three days at the con­clu­sion of his trial, mark­ing his sec­ond trial in ap­prox­i­mately a 12-month pe­riod. (In the sum­mer of 2008, a judge de­clared a mis­trial af­ter a jury ac­quit­ted Kranz on two counts of at­tempted sec­ond­de­gree mur­der but dead­locked on the re­main­ing lesser charges. That jury had de­lib­er­ated for about 10 hours.)

Then in late July 2009, Re­tired Judge Christian M. Kahl im­posed two five-year sen­tences on Kranz, sus­pend­ing the sec­ond one, which he ran con­sec­u­tive to the first. (Then-Ce­cil County State’s At­tor­ney Christo­pher J. Eastridge had sought 15 years of ac­tive in­car­cer­a­tion for Kranz, specif­i­cally rec­om­mend­ing two con­sec­u­tive 15-year sen­tences, with 7½ years sus­pended on each.)

Kranz served the five-year term and the su­per­vised pro­ba­tion im­posed by the judge and, af­ter the fact, he suc­cess­fully ap­pealed his case, en­ti­tling him to a new trial. That set the stage for Bowen elect­ing to dis­miss all charges against Kranz on Sept. 15, rather than try­ing him again af­ter he al­ready had served the penal­ties im­posed for his 2009 con­vic­tions.

At the con­clu­sion of that June 2009 trial, Kranz was found guilty of fir­ing three shot­gun blasts that wounded 24-year-old Brandi Shaf­fer and 32-year-old Ge­orge McSwain Jr., both of Ce­cil County, af­ter they made a wrong turn onto Kranz’ prop­erty in the 1600 block of Dixie Line Road at ap­prox­i­mately 3 a.m. on July 16, 2006.

McSwain suf­fered shot­gun blast wounds to his left shoul­der and ab­domen while Shaf­fer suf­fered wounds to her left arm and left side.

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