Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bennett v. United States

November 22, 2000

REGINALD D. BENNETT, APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE.



Before Farrell, Ruiz, and Reid, Associate Judges.

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

As amended February 7, 2001.

REGINALD D. BENNETT, APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE.

Richard K. Gilbert for appellant. Elizabeth H. Danello, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Wilma A. Lewis, United States Attorney, and John R. Fisher, Thomas J. Tourish, Jr., and Timothy J. Heaphy, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.

Before Farrell, Ruiz, and Reid, Associate Judges.

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

 Appeals from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (Hon. Ronna Lee Beck, Trial Judge)

Argued October 3, 2000

A jury found appellant (Bennett) guilty of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, assaulting a police officer, unlawful entry, and two counts of failure to appear for trial. His primary argument on appeal is that the trial court erroneously refused to permit him to cross-examine a key corroborative government witness, Jerome Lucas, with efforts Lucas had made to bribe or kidnap a witness in a case in which Lucas had been charged with (and ultimately pled guilty to) murder. We hold that the trial court in part misled by representations of the prosecutor as to whether the obstructive acts had occurred erroneously excluded the impeachment evidence. We further hold that the error was prejudicial with respect to Bennett's assault conviction, but had no substantial effect on his conviction for possession with intent to distribute. We reject as well Bennett's separate argument that the trial court erroneously refused to order correction of his pre-sentence report, and we accept the government's concession that the unlawful entry conviction must be reversed. *fn1 Bennett concedes the validity of his convictions for failure to appear.

I.

On October 8, 1996, Metropolitan Police Officer Ozetta Posey and fellow officers approached an apartment building in Southeast Washington and saw four or five men standing in front smoking marijuana. While the other officers detained the men, Posey entered the building and saw Bennett standing in the lobby holding what appeared to Posey to be a white ziplock bag containing multiple blue ziplock packets. According to Posey, Bennett reached into the larger bag and handed one of the ziplocks to a woman standing in front of him. Posey, who was in plain clothes, identified herself as a police officer, reached for her service weapon, and told Bennett to put his hands on the wall. Instead Bennett pushed Posey backwards, causing her to fall to the floor, and shoved a nearby bicycle on top of her before running upstairs.

At Posey's call for help another officer (Earl) entered and saw her sprawled on her back and Bennett running upstairs. The officers lost sight of him as they rushed up to the second floor. Posey first entered a vacant apartment and saw no sign of Bennett. The officers then forced open a second vacant apartment, and when Posey looked out the window of the unit she saw Bennett crouched in a fetal position on a ledge to the side of the window next to a drainpipe. At her command Bennett edged back to the window and was pulled inside. As he was being patted down, according to Posey, he blurted out that he didn't do anything, that it was his twin brother. Bennett was carrying $327 in cash on his person.

Posey also searched the outside ledge and adjoining drainpipe and found no drugs. But when she returned downstairs and went outside, she found a ziplock bag containing smaller blue ziplocks on the ground near the drainpipe. The larger bag, which held twenty-four individual ziplocks of cocaine, appeared to Posey to be the same one she had seen Bennett holding in the lobby.

Jerome Lucas, who had been a close friend of Bennett's, also testified for the government pursuant to a plea agreement. Lucas stated that in the fall of 1996 he had seen Bennett almost every day at the building where Bennett was arrested. The police regularly came to the building, and when they did, Bennett often hid in a tenant's apartment. On one such occasion, Lucas saw him run through the building and jump out the window of a vacant first-floor apartment. On the day of the charged events, Lucas had seen Bennett sell cocaine to several different persons in the lobby during a fifteen to twenty-five minute period. The next day, Bennett told him that an officer had come in and seen him serving drugs and had tried to grab him, but that he had pushed her down and run up the stairs, then tried to escape by going out on the ledge. Bennett told Lucas that the police had found some drugs . . . out there by the window that were worth $300-$400.

II.

Bennett contends that the trial court erroneously refused to allow him to cross-examine Lucas about his efforts to bribe and/or kidnap a witness in another case in which both Lucas and Bennett had been charged with murder. We first set forth the facts ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.