of the evidence and not evidence itself. A defendant may not be convicted because the facts presented are merely susceptible to an interpretation of guilt. There must be sufficient evidence, direct or circumstantial, to support the interpretation beyond a reasonable doubt in the eyes of reasonable jurors.
In this case, the "look-out" interpretation is not adequately supported by the evidence. There is no evidence that Kinard knew a drug transaction would take place, that he knew the whereabouts of the drugs, that he exercised any control over the drugs, or that he was profiting from the hand-to-hand deal conducted by defendant Taylor. Moreover, other interpretations of the circumstantial case are readily supported by the evidence. There was testimony that people in the group that the officers approached were gambling. Tr., 280, 291. Kinard may have been sent to see if the blue car contained police who might have been investigating the gambling.
Clark testified that he was waiting for a ride and that he sent Kinard to see whether the car was in fact the person coming to get him. Tr., 288. The government did not offer sufficient evidence to support its interpretation of events or to eliminate the possibility that these other theories were true. The fact that a drug transaction was taking place in defendant Kinard's vicinity is not sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction for aiding and abetting distribution of drugs or aiding and abetting possession of drugs with the intent to distribute.
Although a jury's verdict is entitled to great deference, it must rest on an adequate foundation. On a motion for judgment of acquittal, the court must inquire whether reasonable jurors could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. No reasonable juror could vote to convict based on the evidence submitted against defendant Kinard. Therefore, in accordance with the law of this circuit, the Court will enter a judgment of acquittal for the defendant. See United States v. Poston, 284 App. D.C. 125, 902 F.2d 90, 94 (D.C. Cir. 1990); United States v. Herron, 185 App. D.C. 403, 567 F.2d 510, 514 (D.C. Cir. 1977). The Court is convinced that there is no other evidence that could be mustered against Kinard that would support a guilty verdict despite the government presenting a full and complete case. It failed to produce sufficient evidence to sustain its theory. A new trial could not overcome this failing and is therefore not indicated. At a minimum, there must be sufficient evidence to support a theory of culpability, in order to allow reasonable jurors to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The government simply lacked sufficient evidence to support its theory in this case. Accordingly, the defendant's motion for a judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the jury's verdict will be granted.
An appropriate order accompanies this opinion.
United States District Court
ORDER - April 2, 1992, Filed
Having considered the arguments of the government and of the defendant and having reviewed the record in the case, it is this first day of April, 1992, hereby
ORDERED that defendant's Motion for a New Trial is granted. The defendant is entitled to a new trial because the Court erred in not granting the defendant a severance. However, the new trial is stayed because of the Court's decision to grant the defendant judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the jury's verdict; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that defendant's Motion for Judgment of Acquittal notwithstanding the jury's verdict is granted. A judgment of acquittal shall be entered for the defendant and he shall be released immediately from any custody resulting from his indictment and conviction in this case.
United States District Court