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02/23/93 M.E.B.

February 23, 1993


Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia; (Hon. Eric H. Holder, Jr., Trial Judge)

Before Ferren, Schwelb and King, Associate Judges. Opinion of the court by Associate Judge King. Dissenting opinion by Associate Judge Ferren.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: King

KING, Associate Judge : Appellant, who was sixteen years of age at the time of the offense, was found guilty of second-degree murder based largely upon his confession. On appeal he claims that the confession should have been suppressed because it was tainted by the illegal arrest that preceded it. We conclude that the confession was properly admitted by the trial Judge. Accordingly, we affirm.


On May 31, 1990, Lloyd Copeland was shot twice at the doorway of a laundromat in the 4400 block of South Capitol Street, at approximately 2:35 p.m. He was pronounced dead shortly afterward. A carry-out is located next to the laundromat, and the Elmira Street corner-store is located next to the laundromat.

Significant events and radio communications applicable to the issues raised in this appeal are set forth chronologically below:

2:35 p.m. Lloyd Copeland shot.

2:41 p.m. Police on scene broadcast a lookout for a black male in a black jacket and black shorts or a black jean outfit, heading in direction of South Capitol Street.

2:47-2:48 p.m. Police on scene called dispatcher to advise that suspect was a black male, 17-18 years old, wearing a blue or black jean outfit with shorts.

2:49 p.m. Updated lookout for black male, 17-18 years old, 5'8", slim build, dark complected, "Philly" style haircut, wearing black Guess brand jacket with matching black shorts, white T-shirt, black Reebok shoes, last seen running on South Capitol Street toward Forrester .

3:07 p.m. Dispatcher requested police unit to investigate call at 138 Joliet Street, S.W., that shooting suspect had been seen on Joliet Street wearing Guess jeans and a Bart Simpson T-shirt.

3:09 p.m. Dispatcher repeated the previous description of alleged shooter "said to be standing with" another male wearing a black and white T-shirt.

3:11 p.m. Essentially the same transmission as at 3:09 p.m.

Homicide Detective Pamela Reed was driving to the murder scene when she heard the 3:07 broadcast about a second-sighting. She proceeded to the address given, where she interviewed Tracy Harris. Harris told Detective Reed that she had been inside the carry-out when she heard shots. She went to the door and saw A., then a fourteen year-old juvenile, whom she knew, next to the decedent. She saw no one else. She could not see a gun, but concluded that A. was the person who had fired the shots. A., who was then wearing a black jacket and black shorts, departed from the scene. Harris also informed Detective Reed that she saw A. 15-30 minutes later on Joliet Street, approximately 2-3 blocks from the shooting scene, in the company of another male who was wearing blue jeans and a black and white shirt. A. was now wearing a Bart Simpson T-shirt. Harris confronted A. about the murder, but he denied shooting the decedent. In addition, Harris told Detective Reed that she had seen both A. and the person who was with him on Joliet Street, before the shooting occurred, inside of the Elmira corner-stone, two doors from the shooting scene.

3:15-3:18 Detective Reed informed the dispatcher of the information she had received from Harris and the dispatcher rebroadcast that information. Specifically, the dispatcher identified the subject by name as A., that he was wearing blue Guess baggy jeans, with blue boxer shorts visible underneath. Detective Reed also informed the dispatcher, who then broadcast, that A. was walking with someone slightly shorter wearing a black and white striped shirt.

3:23 p.m. An officer in the field requested the dispatcher to repeat the lookout.

3:24 p.m. Dispatcher stated "subjects are said to be wanted for questioning in reference to the shooting." The dispatcher stated "subject one" was named "A." and then repeated A.'s description, and that A. was "in the company of" another black male wearing a black and white striped shirt.

After interviewing Harris and calling the dispatcher, Detective Reed went to the scene of the shooting, where she interviewed other witnesses. It was then she learned that immediately before the shooting the decedent and two other young males had been engaged in an argument inside the laundromat. One witness informed Detective Reed that the gunman was one of the two males who had argued with decedent.

3:47 p.m. An officer in the field called and asked for a repeat of the descriptions, which the dispatcher provided. The field officer then responded that "they" had both subjects, and would transport them to the crime scene.

At 3:50 p.m., Officer Pierce and Officer Strong took A. and appellant (who was wearing a black and white shirt) into custody at Fifth Street and Mississippi Street, S.E. The two were told that they were not under arrest. They were both handcuffed and then transported to the crime scene 10-15 blocks away. They remained at the crime scene for 5-10 minutes, and then were directed to go to a location on Galveston Street, a trip which took another 2-3 minutes, where Harris identified both A. and appellant as the two she had seen earlier. Before the identification procedures were conducted, however, A. informed Detective Reed that appellant was the shooter. Thereafter, appellant was placed under arrest and transported to the homicide division office where he confessed that he had shot the decedent.

In his confession, appellant told the police that he and his friend A. were inside the Elmira corner-store when a man with a swollen lip exchanged words with A. Appellant and A. then left the store and walked to the laundromat to play video games. The man with the swollen lip and the decedent entered the laundromat and confronted A. The decedent made a threatening remark, which appellant understood to be directed both to himself and to A. Appellant and A. left the laundromat, and appellant went to retrieve a gun he had hidden nearby. Thereafter, he returned to the laundromat, where he shot the decedent twice. At the time of the shooting, A. was standing across the street. *fn1 Appellant and A. then went to A.'s home where they both changed clothes. Shortly afterward, the two encountered Harris on Joliet Street. Still later, he and A. were taken into custody.

Before trial, appellant moved to suppress the confession, claiming that it was: (1) the product of an illegal arrest, (2) taken in violation of his rights as guaranteed by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694, 86 S. Ct. 1602 (1966), and (3) not voluntary. The trial Judge denied the motion, and appellant was subsequently found guilty, with the confession being the principal evidence presented against him. At trial, ...

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