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Lane v. United States

September 09, 1999


Before Terry and Farrell, Associate Judges, and Belson, Senior Judge.

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

Appeals from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia

(Hon. Herbert B. Dixon, Jr., Trial Judge)

Argued October 6, 1999

Appellant Lane was convicted of kidnapping while armed, *fn1 first-degree felony murder while armed, *fn2 first-degree premeditated murder while armed, *fn3 possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, *fn4 and carrying a pistol without a license. *fn5 After he noted an appeal from the judgment of conviction, this court granted a stay of that appeal while Lane pursued a motion to vacate his sentence under D.C. Code § 23-110 (1996). The trial court denied that motion, and Lane noted a second appeal, which we consolidated with the first.

Lane contends that the trial court erred by failing to give sufficient consideration to a pre-trial claim of ineffective assistance of counsel and by denying without a hearing his § 23-110 motion, which was based on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel during (rather than before) trial. We hold that the trial court adequately addressed the claims of ineffective assistance which Lane raised before trial, and that the remaining claims of ineffectiveness are without merit. Accordingly, we vacate as redundant one of the two murder convictions, *fn6 but otherwise affirm both the judgment of conviction and the denial of the § 23-110 motion.


A. The Government's Evidence

At around noon on October 28, 1991, Sean Boyce and some friends walked across the street from Roosevelt High School, where they were students, to get lunch at the Super S Carry-Out. One member of the group, Darryl Copeland, went inside while Boyce and two others, Curtis Grady and Rahman Mahdi, waited on the sidewalk near the entrance. As the three of them stood there, appellant Lane, accompanied by an unidentified man, approached Boyce and began talking with him. After they had spoken for several minutes, Boyce went with Lane and the other man into a nearby alley. Boyce and Lane walked side by side, followed by the third man. Lane was talking to Boyce, whose head was down.

After they entered the alley, another man approached Mahdi and spoke with him briefly. Following the conversation, Mahdi and Grady ran to a nearby car to get guns. They returned to the carry-out approximately fifteen minutes later, where Copeland joined them. Armed with their guns, the three of them entered the alley, only to find it empty. They never saw Boyce alive again.

Catherine Graham passed by the alley twice that afternoon. The first time, on her way to her mother's house, she saw a rust-colored station wagon pull up to the alley entrance. While the driver remained in the car with the motor running, two men got out and headed into the alley. About ten minutes later, after finding that her mother was not at home, Graham walked back past the same alley. The two men she had seen earlier came out of the alley with a third man, whom Graham later identified as Boyce. *fn7 He was walking between the other two, and the man on the right appeared to be holding a gun. All three were quiet as they came out of the alley, in contrast to the casual behavior which the two men had exhibited earlier when she saw them going into the alley. From their actions, Graham concluded that "something went down" and feared that she was "in the wrong place at the wrong time." The three men got into the waiting station wagon, which quickly drove off.

Less than an hour later, William Redman saw three young men sitting on a picnic bench in Fort Slocum Park, approximately two miles from Roosevelt High School. While Redman watched from the front of his apartment building approximately twenty yards away, one of the men got up from the table, walked around the table, and shot one of the other men five to six times in the face at close range. The third man, who until then had remained seated, immediately ran from the scene and disappeared into a nearby alley. The gunman, whom Redman identified as appellant Lane, *fn8 ran toward Redman, saw him, and then turned and ran down the alley into which his companion had fled. Moments later, Redman saw a brown station wagon drive slowly through the area as if it were "looking for the guys to come jump in." Sean Boyce, the victim of the shooting, died before the police arrived.

Two days after Boyce's murder, Lane confessed to his girl friend, Corine Ward, that he had killed Boyce. Ward said that when Lane came to her house, she asked him if he had heard about the shooting, and Lane responded in a serious tone, "Yes, I did it." Ward testified that she did not think Lane was joking.

Lane also confessed to his cousin, James Thomas. In the weeks following the shooting, Lane shared a room with Thomas in the home of Thomas' mother in Capitol Heights, Maryland. At some time during that period Thomas heard that Lane was "in some sort of trouble." When Thomas asked him about it, Lane confessed that "he had shot someone . . . over a jealousy-type thing." Lane explained to his cousin that he had taken someone from a school and shot him. He asked Thomas not to tell his mother and promised to turn himself in after Christmas.

B. The Defense Evidence

Lane testified that he spent the entire month of October 1991 *fn9 in the hospital after having been shot sixteen times. As a result of his injuries, he said, he was not capable of running at the time Boyce was shot. He acknowledged, however, that he knew Boyce through "drug transactions." When his counsel asked who had shot him, Lane replied, "I don't really know, but [it was] supposed to have been guys that [were] with Sean Boyce."

Lane admitted that on the day Boyce was shot he had gone to Roosevelt High School looking for a female friend named Shawnee. As he approached the school, he noticed Boyce "hanging out" with a group of people in front of the Super S Carry-Out, so he asked Boyce if he had seen Shawnee. Boyce replied that she was inside the school building. Lane and Boyce also discussed the recent incident in which Lane had been shot. However, Lane did not ask whether Boyce was involved because he was afraid Boyce might think he was attempting retaliation and "come back at" him again.

While Lane and Boyce talked, they headed down the street toward Roosevelt High School. As they were walking, Lane said, "a guy came out from behind, pulled a gun, and . . . said, `You gotta walk with me.' " Lane could not identify this person "because it was lunch time and . . . everybody was out there." Lane then had a "flashback" and hoped that Boyce was not responsible for what was happening, though he feared that Boyce might have planned to have him shot again. When they reached the end of the alley, the man with the gun told Lane to "step off." Boyce and the gunman then got into a car and left. Lane testified that he then went back to his own car and drove to the home of his friend Christine Blake. He denied that he was ever at Fort Slocum Park that afternoon and denied shooting Boyce.

Although Lane also denied confessing to the shooting, he admitted that he had discussed Boyce's death with Corine Ward. He testified that when he visited Ward at her house, Ward told him that he had been identified in the Washington Times as a suspect in Boyce's murder. According to Lane, when Ward asked him if he knew who shot Boyce, he told her that he did not know. Despite his response, Ward encouraged him to turn himself in. Ward also told him that ...

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