with Puryear and apparently was never identified by the latter except on the witness stand. Moreover, Puryear was not entirely positive in his testimony on this point, but expressed some doubt. It is significant that the driver of the first taxicab, when called as a rebuttal witness for the Government, testified that when he was robbed, the guns were held by Campbell and McMaster.
Another item of evidence that weighs against the defendant is a statement made by him to the police officers after his arrest to the effect that while he had no participation in the offense, he accepted $ 2 from his companions after the crime was committed. He stated, however, that he did so with reluctance and only after the money was practically forced on him. If he acted in fact under coercion, as all the three sailors contend, the significance of this item of evidence completely vanishes.
Puryear stated that during the robbery he pleaded with the sailors for his safety and received the reply, 'It all depends on you.' On his direct examination, he said that these words were spoken by Robinson. On cross-examination, however, he changed his position and stated that he did not know which of the three had made that statement.
When he was arrested, there was found on the defendant's person some ammunition for a .45 Colt automatic pistol. There is no doubt that this is a suspicious circumstance. Robinson's explanation is that he and other sailors at Dahlgren were in the habit of purchasing ammunition for use at target practice. He stated that they were permitted to borrow Naval firearms from time to time for that purpose, provided they supplied their own ammunition. He stated that before leaving Dahlgren for Washington, he overlooked putting the ammunition back in his locker.
The strongest circumstance against the defendant is the fact that after the first robbery was perpetrated, he remained with his companions instead of making his departure. His explanation is that he was coerced by the other two men, each of whom had a gun, and that although he asked to be allowed to leave, permission was refused him. His two companions emphatically corroborate his contention in this regard, as in all other respects. In fact, Robinson claims that he boarded Puryear's cab in an effort to escape, but that McMaster and Campbell immediately followed him into it.
Clearly there was a prima facie case against Robinson. The testimony of McMaster and Campbell in his favor, however, far outweighs the somewhat dubious and conjectural evidence against him. In the light of these considerations, it is the view of the court that the verdict is contrary to the weight of evidence and should not be permitted to stand. This is a case in which circumstances may have led to a miscarriage of justice that should be corrected by granting a new trial.
Motion to set the verdict aside and for a new trial granted.