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Jenkins v. United States

June 15, 2006

TERRI L. JENKINS, APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CMD7962-04) (Hon. Zinora Mitchell-Rankin, Trial Judge).

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

Submitted May 15, 2006

Before SCHWELB, GLICKMAN, and KRAMER, Associate Judges.

The government charged Terri L. Jenkins with three counts of attempted threats to do bodily harm.*fn1

The three counts related to allegations of conduct occurring on the following dates:

Count F: March 8, 2004

Count G: February 25, 2004

Count H: March 27, 2004

Following a non-jury trial, Ms. Jenkins was found not guilty with respect to Count G, but convicted of the other two counts. On appeal, Ms. Jenkins contends, with respect to Count F, that the prosecution failed to call a witness who was said to have heard the alleged threat, and that the trial court committed plain error by not granting Ms. Jenkins' motion for judgment of acquittal upon that ground. Ms. Jenkins also claims that the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction of Count H. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

This case arises from threats allegedly made by Ms. Jenkins as a result of the failure of the complaining witness, Towanda Hunter, to pay Ms. Jenkins several hundred dollars that she owed Ms. Jenkins for the use of Ms. Jenkins' cellular telephone. Ms. Hunter's testimony that some of these threats were made was supported in part by Yvette Yorkshire, with whom Ms. Hunter had a romantic relationship. Ms. Jenkins' defense with respect to Count H was supported by Rhonda Bowlding, who was Ms. Jenkins' romantic partner. The above-named four women were the only witnesses at the trial.

It is undisputed that in 2003 Ms. Jenkins lent Ms. Hunter a cell phone on the understanding that Ms. Hunter would pay for any calls that she made; that Ms. Hunter was substantially in arrears;*fn2 and that in late February 2004, Ms. Yorkshire paid Ms. Jenkins $150 on Ms. Hunter's behalf in partial payment of the arrearage. This is the context in which Ms. Jenkins' alleged threats to Ms. Hunter are said to have occurred.

II. THE FEBRUARY 25, 2004 INCIDENT

The government claimed that on February 25, 2004, Ms. Jenkins called Ms. Hunter and Ms. Yorkshire and threatened to "firebomb" their apartment if the money that Ms. Hunter owed her was not repaid. Both Ms. Yorkshire and Ms. Hunter testified that this threat was made; Ms. Jenkins denied it. The trial judge did not credit Ms. Yorkshire's testimony:

I have a lot of trouble [with] Ms. Yorkshire's testimony, I really do. I think that there's some things that I'm not understanding that to me cast some doubt about her credibility.

Thus, although the judge stated that "I don't have that same view about Ms. Hunter," she told Ms. Jenkins' attorney that "on the February 25th, I'm not finding your client guilty on that because I have too many questions about credibility ...


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