On January 7, 2019, Anne Colt Leitess was sworn into office as the State’s Attorney for Anne Arundel County. Ms. Leitess’ reputation for treating people with dignity and fairness, focusing on victims and their families, and tenaciously prosecuting repeat violent offenders lead her to become the first woman to be elected State’s Attorney in the 95 year history of this office.
Ms. Leitess received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore Law School in 1988, and quickly began her career in the courtroom. After serving as a law clerk for one year, Ms. Leitess worked her way up from being a young district court prosecutor to the first woman on the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Violent Crimes Unit.
Known for being a hard-working and well-prepared prosecutor, Ms. Leitess was selected by State’s Attorney Frank Weathersbee in 1998 to lead the prosecution in the retrial of Scotland Williams for the brutal murder of two attorneys in their Annapolis home. Ms. Leitess successfully introduced Mitochondrial DNA evidence for the first time in Maryland, helping secure a conviction and two life sentences.
When Mr. Weathersbee elected to retire in 2013, Ms. Leitess was selected by the judges of the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to complete the remainder of his term. As State’s Attorney, Ms. Leitess spent the following two years instituting a number of changes to revitalize the office, streamline its operations, and better serve the community.
Ms. Leitess upgraded the office’s technology and created a modern website. She also expanded drug court for non-violent offenders to enter treatment in lieu of jail time, and worked with the Anne Arundel County Police Department to allow officers be “on call”, thus allowing them to respond to the needs of citizens rather than wait in a courtroom. Perhaps most importantly, Ms. Leitess expanded a community outreach program that educates the public on such topics as: internet safety, elder fraud and abuse, drug and gang awareness, and dating violence.
In 2014, while serving as State’s Attorney, Ms. Leitess prosecuted and won jury trial convictions for two murderers.The first, Michael Stahlnecker, executed his partner behind his business and hid the body in the trunk of the victim’s car. Just four months later, she prosecuted Victor Harper, a man who shot the ex-husband of his estranged girlfriend in the living room of her home.
From 2015 to 2018, Ms. Leitess served as the Chief of the Special Victims Unit in Baltimore City, where she supervised 22 attorneys while prosecuting cases of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and child homicide cases—convicting more than a dozen people of child homicide alone.
Ms. Leitess has leveraged her experience and expertise to help improve state laws by testifying before the Maryland General Assembly. In 2015, she testified to permit the use of so-called prior crimes evidence against serial rapists and sexual child abusers. This law came to fruition in 2018, when the Serial Predator Prevention Act (HB 301 and SB 270) was enacted, allowing a rapist's or child abuser's prior actions to be cited as evidence at their trials to show a pattern of such behavior.
Ms. Leitess has lived in Anne Arundel County for more than 25 years and remained an active member of the community. She served as the president of the Anne Arundel County Bar Association, where she was honored for helping homeless youth in public schools. She has also been recognized by others - including the Anne Arundel County Executive, Sheriff, Chief of Police, Maryland State's Attorney's Association and the Korean Society of Anne Arundel County - for her dedication to victims of violent crime.
A native of Maryland, Ms. Leitess grew up in Laurel, and attended Laurel High School, where she was on the honor roll and track team. She is the married mother of three sons. A veteran public servant, Ms. Leitess is dedicated to working for a more safe and just county.