On Aug. 5, convicted homicide defendant Calvin McNeill and defense attorney Sonia Kumar successfully argued their motion for unsupervised probation before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Paul Joseph Cucuzzella.
McNeill, 58, had been found guilty of first-degree murder in connection to an incident that occurred on July 31, 1981. According to Kumar, McNeill and his friends intended to rob the victim. In an attempt to show off to his peers, McNeill took his friend’s gun and fired a single shot, killing the victim. He was 17 years old at the time. McNeill was originally sentenced to life on July 10, 1982.
In July 2020, McNeill and Kumar filed a motion for a modification of the sentence before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Pamela White. As a result of this hearing, McNeill was released on supervised probation to last until July 2023. The reason for his release, according to Kumar, was due to his lack of incidents during his 40 years of incarceration.
On Aug. 5, the defense moved to adjust McNeill’s sentence to another time due to his improvement and his good work. The defense presented various evidence of the success of McNeill’s rehabilitation, including outstanding customer reviews from his place of employment, letters from his probation officer, and his work with the ACLU Maryland parole commission. McNeil, now 58, also provided a tearful testimonial describing his life post-incarceration. He explained that if he was granted unsupervised probation he would be able to get closure from this chapter of his life.
The prosecutor also advocated for McNeill’s release to unsupervised parole, stating that McNeill was a low-risk case and in conversation with parole and probation, they were low on resources that they felt could be used in more high-risk cases.
Judge Cucuzzella granted the motion for unsupervised probation for the rest of the probationary period. In his concluding remarks Cucuzella said, “while these stories are less frequent than we would like, your story should be an example to others. It is emblematic of how the criminal justice system can work.”
McNeill will finish his probationary period without having to report to parole and probation services. Parole and probation will continue to monitor his status and ensure McNeill has no altercations with the police. The probationary period is scheduled to end in July 2023.