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Daniels v. United States

August 26, 1999


Before Terry, Schwelb, and Farrell, Associate Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Terry, Associate Judge

Appeals from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (Hon. Truman A. Morrison, III, Trial Judge)

Argued September 9, 199

Appellants Daniels and Campbell were convicted of first-degree murder while armed. *fn1 Daniels was also convicted of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence *fn2 and possession of a prohibited weapon. *fn3 On appeal both appellants claim that the evidence was insufficient to support their murder convictions and that the trial court erred in refusing to force the government to accept a stipulation of the testimony of the medical examiner. Daniels contends, in addition, that the court erred in admitting hearsay testimony into evidence and then denying his motion for a mistrial. We reject all of these arguments and affirm the convictions of both appellants.


On November 25, 1994, shortly after 6:00 p.m., Benjamin Holley walked up to a group of people standing in front of an apartment building at 5035 Central Avenue, S.E. Included in the group were Jermaine Morgan, *fn4 Robert Davis, and appellant Angelo Daniels. When Davis saw Holley, he told him he "didn't want him coming around here no more." Holley replied, "Whatever," and walked off in the direction of his home on nearby Astor Place. After Holley left, Davis remarked, "I should bust his bitch ass." *fn5 He then turned and said something to Daniels, and the two of them walked around the corner together.

Shortly thereafter, at the corner of Ayers Place and Central Avenue, Davis flagged down a white Oldsmobile with tinted windows and a black top, driven by appellant James Campbell. Campbell stopped the car, and Davis climbed into the back seat next to George Terry, while Daniels got into the front seat. Davis asked Campbell to drive him around the corner so that he could "do something." He said he "wanted to wet someone" and was "going to wet the Bama." Daniels commented that he was "with" Davis.

At the corner of 51st and B Streets, S.E., Davis told Campbell to pull over so that he and Daniels could get out. Davis was carrying a nine-millimeter handgun, as he later admitted in his testimony. When Daniels ran around the front of the car, Terry saw what appeared to be a "big gun" under his arm.

Daniels and Davis ran through an alley next to an apartment building and came out onto Astor Place, where Benjamin Holley was walking alone. When Holley saw the two armed men emerge from the alley, he started to run. Daniels and Davis chased after him, firing toward him from behind. Holley was hit once and fell to the ground. He rose to his feet in an attempt to continue running, but one of his pursuers shot him in the back, and Holley went down again, this time for good. As he lay face down on the sidewalk, Daniels and Davis both stood over him and continued firing. By the time they were finished, Holley had been shot thirteen times. Holley was taken to Prince George's County General Hospital in Cheverly, Maryland, where he was pronounced dead of multiple gunshot wounds. The medical examiner testified that nine of the thirteen shots were fired into Holley's back, at least four of them while he was lying on the sidewalk. *fn6

Reverend William Logan was inside the nearby St. Lucille AME Zion Church, and Bridgette Bazemore and her daughter, Ann Paul, had just parked their car and were on their way to a meeting in the church. All three testified that they heard a volley of gunshots with two distinctly different sounds, one much louder than the other. Several other persons from the neighborhood also testified that they heard the gunshots. The witnesses said that when they looked in the direction of the shots, they saw two men running down a path next to an apartment building, and that the men got into a late-model white (or "ash gray") car with tinted windows and a black top. A witness who saw them entering the car said that one of the men was carrying a "large" weapon.

George Terry was still sitting in the back seat of Campbell's car when he heard the gunfire. He asked Campbell to drop him off somewhere, but Campbell told him to "just chill" and ordered him to get into the front seat. Davis and Daniels soon came running back from the alley and climbed into the back seat. Terry again asked to be let out of the car, but Campbell "just started laughing and pulled off." A few minutes later, however, they dropped Terry off at a corner near his house.

Shortly thereafter, while Reverend Logan held Holley's head in his lap and prayed, Ms. Bazemore and others saw Campbell's car slowly cruising past the scene of the shooting. At about the same time, Officer Darren McCallan of the Metropolitan Police was patrolling in the area when Campbell's car almost struck his police cruiser. The officer gave Campbell an oral warning, but let him drive away. Moments later Officer McCallan received a radio run informing him that there had been a shooting on Astor Place. The broadcast included a lookout for a car involved in the shooting, which McCallan realized was the car he had just allowed to leave.

Jermaine Morgan testified that approximately fifteen minutes after Daniels and Davis left the group at 5035 Central Avenue, Davis returned to the group and "just said, `I bust his bitch ass.' "

About a month after the shooting, Davis gave Morgan a nine- millimeter handgun, which the police found in Morgan's possession when he was arrested on an unrelated charge in December 1996, more than two years later. The other weapon, an AK-47 automatic rifle, was recovered on January 5, 1995, when police officers executed a search warrant in an apartment on Ninth Street, S.E. Both Daniels and Campbell were in the apartment at the time of the search and were arrested. The rifle was found hidden inside a skylight in the bathroom. Officer Timothy Curtis, a firearms expert, testified that some of the shell casings recovered at the crime scene had been fired from the nine-millimeter pistol and that others had been fired from the AK-47.

Davis testified reluctantly at appellants' trial after receiving limited immunity for his testimony. *fn7 He admitted his role in the shooting but claimed that Morgan, rather than Daniels, was the other shooter. The government impeached that portion of Davis' testimony with the transcript of a videotaped statement Davis had made to the police following his arrest, in which he said that Daniels had carried the other weapon and had fired several rounds into Holley. The prosecutor also elicited an admission by Davis that he was angry at Morgan for testifying against him when he was separately tried for, and convicted of, Holley's murder.

Neither appellant presented any evidence.


Both appellants contend that the evidence was insufficient to support their convictions of first-degree murder. In considering these claims, we view the evidence "in the light most favorable to the government, giving full play to the right of the jury to determine credibility, weigh the evidence, and draw justifiable inferences of fact . . . ." Curry v. United States, 520 A.2d 255, 263 (D.C. 1987); accord, e.g., Nelson v. United States, 601 A.2d 582, 593 (D.C. 1991) (citing cases). "The evidence may be deemed sufficient `even if it does not exclude every reasonable hypothesis other than guilt.' " Russell v. United States, 701 A.2d 1093, 1098 (D.C. 1997) (quoting Irick v. United States, 565 A.2d 26, 30 (D.C. 1989)); see Owens v. United States, 688 A.2d 399, 406-408 (D.C. 1996) (Schwelb, J., Concurring). "It is only where there is no evidence upon which a reasonable mind might fairly conclude guilt beyond a reasonable doubt that the trial court may properly take the case from the jury." (James) Williams v. United States, 357 A.2d 865, 867 (D.C. 1976) (citing cases); accord, e.g., Frendak v. United States, 408 A.2d 364, 371 (D.C. 1979). In a first- degree ...

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