2021 | Courts

Conviction upheld of man charged with raping woman he encountered outside bar

Gaithersburg man argued interrogation was unfairly prejudicial

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The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has upheld the conviction of a Montgomery County man who had been charged with second-degree rape and sentenced to 35 years in prison.

After his first trial ended in a hung jury, Charles Shelton, 42, of Gaithersburg was convicted in March 2020 of two counts of second-degre rape and one count of attempted second-degree rape.

Shelton appealed the conviction, arguing that parts of a police interrogation following his arrest should not have been used during his trial. He also argued that the jury was not legal because it did not include any Black people, which is Shelton’s race.

Shelton was charged with raping a woman in Gaithersburg in December 2018. The woman had been drinking and was attempting to walk home when she stumbled outside of the bar, Quincy’s. Shelton approached her, offered her a ride and the woman accepted, according to the appeals court documents.

Shelton did not take her home, and sexually assaulted her in his vehicle, according to court records.

The woman reported the assault to police in the following days, and Shelton was arrested. He waived his Miranda rights and was questioned, but the interview was not admitted at trial. The court ruled that parts of the interview could be used when the detective was being questioned.

Shelton argued that the interview was “unfairly prejudicial” and should not have been allowed to be used in court.

For example, Shelton said the detective’s characterization that he often goes to bars and talks to many women was irrelevant.

The prosecutor argued that many parts of the interview were relevant, including Shelton changing his account of the evening. At one point, Shelton denies going to Quincy’s, but later admits he did, according to court records.

“Ultimately, this is a difficult case because it will center, likely, on the issue of consent. [Shelton’s] denials during that 28 minutes, and his – what the State will present as incredible, or not credible, indications that he doesn’t know what they’re talking about, are important things, critical things, for the jury to be able to consider when weighing the credibility of the victim, as opposed to [Shelton],” prosecutors argued at the time.

The judge in the case allowed the portion of the interview to be used during trial, and the appeals court affirmed last month it was admissible and relevant to establishing Shelton’s credibility.

Shelton also argued in his appeal that the court should have chosen a new pool of potential jurors when it was discovered the pool consisted of few Black people. Shelton’s attorney argued it was relevant because he is a Black man who was accused of raping a white woman.

The court ruled that there is no law that entitled Shelton to a jury that included people of the same race, just a “fair selection.”

The appeals court affirmed the selection process was legal and fair.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com