Appeals from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (F-3660-98) (F-3678-98) (Hon. Stephen G. Milliken, Trial Judge)
Before Steadman, Ruiz and Glickman, Associate Judges.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ruiz, Associate Judge
Wayne Riddick and Martin Teasley appeal their jury convictions of assault with intent to kill while armed *fn1 and aggravated assault while armed, *fn2 arising from their involvement in the May 19, 1998, physical assault on Denice Davis. Both appellants claim that the trial court erred in denying their respective motions for judgment of acquittal based on the insufficiency of evidence presented at trial. Teasley further contends that his constitutional right to confront witnesses against him was violated when the trial court limited his defense counsel's cross-examination of two government witnesses and that the trial court committed reversible error in not instructing the jury on the definition of "serious bodily injury"as an element of aggravated assault. We affirm.
Denice Davis testified that on the evening of May 19, 1998, she was attacked by two men while on the back porch of the apartment where she lived in an abandoned building located at 1242 Meigs Place, N.E. The two men, whom she identified as appellant Wayne Riddick and an individual named Rob Lowrey, lived together with appellant Martin Teasley in an apartment next to hers. On the evening in question, Riddick and Lowrey interrupted Davis as she was packing some belongings and accused her of stealing personal items belonging to them. According to Davis, Lowrey said, "Let's throw this bitch over the bannister," and "I'm going to kill this bitch." He then hit Davis in the face and pushed her up against a wall, and both men began kicking and beating her as she tried to make her way out of the apartment.
The attack soon became more brutal as the men began using a stick to stab Davis in the head and hands. It was at this time that appellant Teasley appeared and, upon learning that it was Davis who was being attacked, joined in saying, "Let's kill this bitch." Sometime during the ensuing assault, Lowrey told Teasley to get a knife. Teasley left and returned with a butter knife, which he placed up against Davis' neck. Apparently upset at Teasley's choice of weapon, Lowrey threw the knife down complaining, "That ain't going to cut nothing," and went into his apartment. Meanwhile, Teasley and Riddick continued the assault on Davis. At one point, even though Teasley was holding her arms, Davis almost got away from the two men, but Riddick grabbed her, and Teasley started "stomping" on her. Lowrey then rejoined the attack, bringing something sharp which he used to "slice" Davis's neck. After that, Davis heard glass break and felt someone jabbing her on her head and back. She moaned in pain and screamed for help as loud as she could, crying out, "Help me, help me." The attack continued until Lowrey suddenly stood up and told the others to stop beating her. When Davis looked over the bannister, she saw that a police car had arrived.
Officer Aris Paredes testified that he and his partner, Officer Lopez, arrived on the 1200 block of Meigs Place, N.E., in response to a radio call while on routine patrol. After parking their patrol car in an alley directly behind a two-story building, the officers noticed a woman standing in the window of the building next door, pointing at the abandoned building at No. 1242. Officer Paredes then heard someone scream. Both officers immediately turned their radios down, pulled out their flashlights and weapons, and began walking up the inside stairs of the abandoned building which led to the second floor landing. As they walked up, the officers heard a female voice cry out for help and then two other distinct male voices. One of the voices said, "Kill the bitch," while the other, rougher voice said, "You're gonna die." When Officer Paredes got to the top of the stairs, he discovered a bloodied Davis, holding on to the ledge of the balcony as she cried out for help and repeatedly attempted to stand, but fell back down.
Officer Paredes looked to the apartment to the right of the balcony (Davis's apartment) and heard the same voice as before repeat the command to "kill the bitch." Then the officer heard the rough voice again, coming from near the door of the apartment, repeating the words "you're gonna die." At that time, Riddick stepped out of the apartment on the right and moved toward Davis as if to try to grab her by the hair. Officer Paredes raised his flashlight and gun, identified himself and ordered Riddick to stop. Riddick turned, looked at Officer Paredes and dropped a piece of glass that he was holding in his left hand. He then ran back into the apartment. Immediately after that, another man, later identified as Lowrey, emerged from the apartment on the left (the one occupied by the three men), cleaning his face with a piece of clothing. As soon as Officer Paredes turned the flashlight on the man, he ran back into the apartment.
Officer Paredes directed his flashlight back to Davis and saw her, covered in blood, stretching out her arms to him and pleading for help. When the officer asked who had attacked her, she answered, "Rob." The officer told Davis to go down the steps while he looked for the two men he had heard in the apartment on the right. As he entered that apartment, the officer discovered Teasley at the front door and ordered him to stop. Realizing that Teasley was not the same man he had seen drop the piece of glass on the landing, the officer continued to look farther into the apartment, where he found Riddick in a small room with his hands up against the wall.
Officer Paredes took Teasley, who appeared drunk, and Riddick, who seemed sober, into custody. After speaking with both men, he determined that it had been Riddick who stated, "You're gonna die," and Teasley who had said, "Kill the bitch." After both men were secured, Officer Paredes returned to Davis, getting a piece of clothing to place on her wounded neck, as "there was blood gushing out." At trial, the officer described Davis as being "bloody all over. Her hair looked like she had tomato paste over her head. That's how much blood she had. And her face was full of blood, blood was just coming out of her neck." Officer Paredes also described some blood as coming from "the back of her head." *fn3
Neither appellant had suffered any wound or injury, yet each had a large amount of blood on his clothing and person. *fn4 Teasley had a large blood stain on his left pants leg, a small stain on his right pants leg and visible blood stains on his shoes. Riddick had blood stains on his shirt, pants, shoes and hands.
A. Cross-Examination of ...