Prosecutors dismiss 14-year-old shooting case on appeal
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.