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12/11/92 JOSEPH F. WALKER v. UNITED STATES

December 11, 1992

JOSEPH F. WALKER, APPELLANT
v.
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia; (Hon. Joseph M.F. Ryan, Trial Judge)

Before Ferren, Schwelb, and King, Associate Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Schwelb

SCHWELB, Associate Judge: Walker was convicted by a jury of kidnaping. On appeal, he claims that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, that the trial Judge erroneously declined to instruct the jury on purported lesser-included offenses (LIO's), and that Walker was denied a fair trial as a result of allegedly improper prosecutorial argument. We affirm.

I

The government's evidence, if credited, showed that Walker was a pimp and that Ebony Davis had been working for him as a prostitute. Ms. Davis became dissatisfied with this arrangement, in part because Walker threatened and beat her. She went to the police for assistance.

As a result, Walker was arrested. He complained to the police that "the bitch set us up," adding that "it was Ebony that did it." A few days later, according to Ms. Davis, Walker walked up to her and said he was going to kill her. Shortly after that, Ms. Davis saw Walker on the street. Fearing retribution, she ran indoors.

Not long after these events, Walker came to see Ms. Davis while she was at a delicatessen. Using threatening language, he demanded to speak with her. After some temporizing, Ms. Davis agreed. As she walked out of the establishment, one Lloyd, a confederate of Walker, grabbed her from behind and held her by her windpipe. With Walker's assistance, Lloyd dragged Ms. Davis into a Chrysler automobile. In the car, in compliance with Walker's direction, Lloyd handcuffed Ms. Davis' hands behind her back.

Walker drove Ms. Davis to a deserted alley, where he and Lloyd pulled her out and stood her up against a dumpster. The terrified Ms. Davis tried to make her escape, but Lloyd grabbed and choked her. Walker announced that he had to go get "the thing," an entity not otherwise defined. He directed Lloyd to hold Ms. Davis until he (Walker) returned. Walker then drove away.

After Walker's departure, Ms. Davis saw car headlights, and screamed. It turned out that the vehicle was a police car, and officers rescued a very frightened Ms. Davis. Lloyd fled with alacrity. Ms. Davis never saw him again.

Walker soon returned to the alley in the Chrysler, but sped away when he observed police vehicles which had assembled there. Officers pursued and ultimately apprehended him. Walker was indicted, brought to trial, and convicted of kidnaping. This appeal followed.

II

Our kidnaping statute prohibits the seizure and detention of any person against his or her will "for ransom or reward or otherwise." D.C. Code § 22-2101 (1989) (emphasis added). Walker contends that the evidence against him was insufficient because the prosecution failed to prove that Walker derived any benefit from seizing Ms. Davis. We disagree.

In evaluating a claim of evidentiary insufficiency, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, with due regard for the jury's right to weigh the evidence, to assess credibility, and to draw reasonable inferences. Mills v. United States, 599 A.2d 775, 780 (D.C. 1991). Applying that standard, we are satisfied that an impartial jury could reasonably conclude that Walker seized Ms. Davis in order to obtain revenge for her having left him and for reporting him to the police.

Involuntary seizure and detention "is the very essence of the crime of kidnaping." Chatwin v. United States, 326 U.S. 455, 464, 66 S.Ct. 233, 90 L.Ed. 198 (1946). The insertion into the statute of the words "or otherwise" indicates a congressional intent that the statute be given a broad application. United States v. Wolford, 144 U.S. App. D.C. 1, 5-6, 444 F.2d 876, 880-81 (1971). The motive behind a kidnaping is unimportant, so long as the act was "done with the expectation of benefit to the transgressor." Id. (quoting Gooch v. United States, 297 U.S. 124, 128, 56 S.Ct. 395, 80 L.Ed. 522 ...


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