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Moore v. United States

August 10, 2000

CALVIN D. MOORE, APPELLANT,
V.
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE



Before Terry, Reid, and Washington, Associate Judges.

Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (Hon. William M. Jackson, Trial Judge)

Argued April 20, 2000

Washington, Associate Judge: After a jury trial Calvin D. Moore was found guilty of receiving stolen property,*fn1 one count of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle,*fn2 and one count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance (crack cocaine).*fn3 Moore argues on appeal that 1) the government submitted insufficient evidence to support his convictions for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, receiving stolen property, and possession of crack cocaine, and 2) the trial court abused its discretion by limiting the scope of Moore's examination of a witness. We affirm.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Ms. Carol Byrne, a New York resident, testified that on August 22, 1997, she had driven to the District of Columbia to assist her daughter move into her college living quarters. Ms. Byrne unloaded her daughter's belongings from her 1990 Toyota Camry, and then parked her car on Macomb Street, N.W. Ms. Byrne locked the car and took her keys with her. When Ms. Byrne returned to retrieve her car between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. on that same day, her car was missing. She immediately reported the car stolen to the police. At trial, Ms. Byrne testified that she did not know Moore and did not give him or anyone else permission to use her car.

On October 17, 1997, Officer Robert Bryant of the Metropolitan Police Department was sitting in his marked squad car at a stop light in Georgetown when Moore approached his car and initiated a conversation with him. Moore was familiar with Officer Bryant because he frequented the Georgetown area and Moore had held conversations with him in the past. Moore informed Officer Bryant that the rumors floating around the area that he was selling drugs were false, and that a man named "Tex," who was responsible for starting the rumors, was actually the person selling drugs. Moore also told Officer Bryant that he had procured a new job and that he had been given a cellular phone and a company car. Officer Bryant also testified that Moore informed him not to be alarmed if he (Moore) was seen driving a Toyota with New York plates because the car was not stolen.

Officer Bryant became suspicious of Moore's volunteered denials of driving a stolen car and began to inquire for more information from Moore about the car. Officer Bryant asked Moore for the license plate number of the car, and Moore offered some numbers and letters, but could not conclusively state the correct order of the numbers and letters. Officer Bryant asked Moore where the car was parked, and he responded that the car was on 31st Street, N.W. Officer Bryant told Moore that he would go to the car and check it out, and their conversation ended. Officer Bryant found the car parked on 31st Street, N.W., checked the license plate against a "hot sheet," and discovered that the car had been reported stolen. Officer Bryant called for assistance, and Officer Mark Dimiduk responded to stake out the car. After a few minutes, Moore approached the car and got in. A few minutes later, Moore "zipped off" in the car at a "pretty fast pace." Officer Dimiduk was in an unmarked car and plain clothes, so he called for assistance, and other marked units responded to the call and stopped Moore a few blocks away.

Moore was taken from the car and arrested. Officer Bryant then began a search of the car. Officer Bryant located some medical papers with appellant's name on them and a small film canister behind an upright armrest in the middle of the back seat. Officer Bryant opened the film canister and found ten small ziplock bags, each containing a rocklike substance, later confirmed to be crack cocaine. Officer Bryant then discovered that a crime scene search officer, Officer Israel Ruiz, was en route to the scene, and thereafter stopped searching the car. Officer Ruiz arrived at the scene to search the vehicle further and found five more ziplock bags containing a rocklike substance under the right rear floor mat. Officer Ruiz conducted field tests on the drugs found in the armrest and under the floor mat, dusted the car for fingerprints, and took photographs of the car, Moore's personal medical papers, and the drugs.

Detective Charles Culver, an expert on drug evidence procedures and drug distribution, packaging, sales and use, testified at the trial that the packaging and amount of drugs found in the car were consistent with distribution rather than personal use.

Moore also testified. He stated that on October 16, 1997, he was living at a halfway house because of a previous conviction for possession of cocaine. At 7:25 p.m. on that date, Moore checked out of the halfway house, not to go to work, but to go to D.C. General Hospital in Southeast, Washington, to pick up some prescriptions. Once outside of the halfway house, he ran into Ms. Brenda Brooks, the girlfriend of another resident in the halfway house. He testified that he had known Ms. Brooks for one month and that she agreed to let him use her car. After dropping off Ms. Brooks on 16th Street in Northeast Washington, Moore proceeded to D.C. General Hospital. Moore then left the hospital in Southeast Washington and drove to get something to eat at Subway sandwich shop in Georgetown. After arriving in Georgetown, Moore saw Officer Bryant and decided to initiate a conversation to "clear his good name" of the accusations that he was dealing drugs. Moore testified that he did not tell Officer Bryant that he was driving a company car and further stated that he only mentioned that the car he was driving was not stolen because he heard a lookout for a stolen Toyota Camry on the police radio.

Moore testified that he had only been driving the car for about five hours and that he had not been in the car previous to that night. He also stated that the only papers he had in the car were sitting on the front passenger seat along with a hat and his cellular phone. Moore testified that he did not know the car was stolen and denied any knowledge of the drugs found in the car. He also stated that he never heard from Ms. Brooks again after October 16, 1997.*fn4

II. SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE

After reviewing the record, we agree with the government that there was sufficient evidence to support Moore's convictions for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, receiving stolen property, and possession with the intent to distribute crack cocaine. In reviewing sufficiency claims, we view the evidence and draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the government. See Speight v. United States, 671 A.2d 442, 454 (D.C. 1996). This court defers "to the fact finder's right to weigh the evidence, determine the credibility of witnesses, and draw inferences from the evidence presented[.]" Patton v. United States, 633 A.2d 800, 820 (D.C. 1993) (citations omitted). We do not distinguish between direct and circumstantial evidence when reviewing a sufficiency claim. See Chambers v. United States, 564 A.2d 26, 30-31 (D.C. 1989). In fact, ...


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