ANNAPOLIS – The Court of Special Appeals rejected Hadden Clark’s bid for a new trial in the 1986 murder of 6-year-old Michele Dorr Wednesday, upholding the Montgomery County Circuit Court decision to include evidence and testimony that the defense argued were hearsay and inadmissible.
If any one of the 11 issues Clark was appealing had been overturned, he’d have gotten a new trial, said Judge James P. Salmon, who wrote the opinion in the case.
After years under suspicion and his conviction in a different murder, Clark was found guilty of the second-degree murder of Dorr in October 1999.
Dorr was last seen playing in a pool in her father’s back yard in Silver Spring on May 31, 1986.
Police believe she walked to the house of her friend, Clark’s niece, where Clark was staying.
Police believe Clark slashed Dorr with a 12-inch butcher knife and then buried her body in a duffel bag in a Massachusetts cemetery, but later reburied the body in Maryland.
In January 2000, Clark led police to a wooded area near Route 29 in Silver Spring where they found Dorr’s body more than 13 years after she disappeared.
In his appeal, Clark didn’t argue the state failed to prove its case, yet he didn’t admit guilt either.
When someone enters a plea of not guilty they’re not always innocent, said Salmon. “They’re just saying, `State, prove it,'” he said.
Rather, Clark argued, testimony from a Hagerstown inmate, who said Clark confessed to him, and notes from a detective’s interview with one witness, who said he saw a little girl at the Clark residence the day Dorr disappeared, were hearsay and shouldn’t have been allowed.
In addition, Clark argued the county court shouldn’t have allowed hypnotically induced testimony from Dorr’s father, Carl.
Other points of contention included the admission of evidence Clark claimed police obtained illegally and restriction of Clark’s counsel to cross- examine key witnesses.
Clark’s public defenders Margaret Lanier and Michael Braudes could not be reached for comment on the decision.
The court disagreed with Clark on every point. However, Clark still could appeal his case to the Court of Appeals, said Salmon.
The appeals court decision to side with the lower court keeps Clark’s 30- year sentence intact.
Clark will begin serving time for Dorr’s murder after he completes two other sentences totaling 40 years for the 1992 murder of Laura Houghteling, 23, of Bethesda, and an unrelated theft charge.
“The police suspect him of other murders up in Massachusetts, but they haven’t been able to prove it,” said Salmon. Clark has worked with police to search for bodies reportedly buried in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Several other northeastern states want to talk with Clark about possible serial killings, according to published reports. – 30 – CNS 09-27-01