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Casey Hampleton v. United States

December 23, 2010

CASEY HAMPLETON, APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CF3-9450-06) (Hon. Hiram Puig-Lugo, Trial Judge)

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

Argued October 19, 2010

Before REID and FISHER, Associate Judges, and KING, Senior Judge.

After the trial court denied his motions to suppress, a jury convicted appellant Casey Hampleton of three counts of armed robbery, three counts of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, and one count of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.*fn1 On appeal, he argues that show-up identifications and certain physical evidence should have been suppressed as the fruit of an illegal seizure. He further argues that his convictions for possession of a firearm during a crime of violence should merge. We agree with appellant's merger argument, but otherwise affirm.

I. Overview of the Case

On May 11, 2006, three people were robbed at gunpoint by five men who were traveling in a stolen car. The robbers fled the scene in the car, were chased by police, and crashed into a tree before bailing out and scattering into the surrounding neighborhood. Approximately thirty minutes after the robbery, a police officer saw Casey Hampleton walking up North Capitol Street a quarter of a mile from the scene of the bailout, talking on a cell phone. Because Mr. Hampleton matched a general description of the robbers, the officer performed a Terry stop.*fn2 Soon thereafter, Mr. Hampleton was arrested and charged in the robbery. The jury in Mr. Hampleton's first trial deadlocked as to all counts, but in November 2006 a second jury found him guilty of the charges listed above. This appeal followed.

II. Factual and Procedural Background

A. The Evidence at the Suppression Hearing

Viewed in the light most favorable to sustaining the trial court's ruling,*fn3 the evidence showed the following.*fn4 At approximately 10:00 p.m. on May 11, 2006, Silas Eng, Nathan Ford, and Christopher Kastronis were walking to a nightclub in northeast Washington, D.C., when at least five men jumped out of a black Jeep Liberty and robbed them at gunpoint. The robbers took cash from Mr. Eng and Mr. Ford, and cash, a cell phone, and a bank card from Mr. Kastronis. They also attempted to force Mr. Kastronis into their Jeep at gunpoint, in order to take him to an ATM to withdraw money. Fearing the arrival of the police, however, the robbers soon abandoned this effort and drove off. Mr. Eng, Mr. Ford, and Mr. Kastronis ran to the nightclub and reported the robbery to two police officers who were parked outside.

The officers broadcast a lookout for five or six "black males" in "dark clothing" riding in a black Jeep Liberty with Virginia tags. Within "two, three minutes" of the lookout, Officer Michael Jenkins and his partner spotted the Jeep Liberty and attempted to stop it. The occupants of the Jeep "continued at a high rate of speed in [an] attempt to flee," and the officers chased them for "five minutes or less." The Jeep then crashed into a tree near Second and Taylor Streets, N.E., and the officers saw five suspects bail out of the vehicle and flee. One suspect "ran into the woods" while four others ran off "in a bunch" toward the grounds of the nearby Archbishop Carroll High School.

Officers "cordoned off" a perimeter around the area, and additional police officers responded "to canvass the area." At Mr. Hampleton's suppression hearing, the government played a recording of radio broadcasts related to the police search. The trial court noted for the record that the recording sounded "fairly chaotic" and that there were "different officers on the scene . . . chasing . . . several individuals in the Archbishop Carroll location who seem to be moving in different directions." At the end of the recording, "Officer Antoine's voice [came] over the radio."

Another one of the officers, Officer Neffon, was stationed on Scale Gate Road Bridge overlooking North Capitol Street. Officer Neffon broadcast a lookout that she had observed "black males . . . wearing dark clothing" attempting to climb over the fence of Archbishop Carroll High School from the school grounds onto North Capitol Street. She further noted that, after seeing her cruiser, the individuals abandoned their attempt and retreated back inside the school grounds.*fn5

Officer Lennox Antoine heard Officer Neffon's broadcast as he was driving in a marked police cruiser southbound down North Capitol Street in response to the robbery lookout. Within a few seconds of Officer Neffon's broadcast and approximately 10 to 15 minutes after the bailout,*fn6 Officer Antoine saw Mr. Hampleton walking in the 3700 block of North Capitol Street. Mr. Hampleton was on the other side of North Capitol Street from the Archbishop Carroll High School, near the exit ramp to Scale Gate Road. He was walking northbound up North Capitol Street toward Fort Drive. At Mr. Hampleton's suppression hearing, Officer Antoine testified that, because "[t]here's no sidewalk on North Capitol Street," Mr. Hampleton was walking along a "grassy area." Officer Antoine also testified that he did not see anyone else in or around the area. Mr. Hampleton was wearing dark clothing and appeared to be talking on a cell phone.

Upon seeing Mr. Hampleton, Officer Antoine "immediately pulled to the curb . . . put [his] spotlight on him . . . exit[ed the] vehicle [and] order[ed] him to lay on the ground." Mr. Hampleton complied, and Officer Antoine handcuffed him and patted him down for weapons. Officer Antoine then placed his hand on Mr. Hampleton's chest and concluded that "his heart rate was not normal" and that "he was breathing heavy," which led Officer Antoine to believe that Mr. Hampleton had been running.*fn7 In Mr. Hampleton's pockets, Officer Antoine found "approximately four cell phones," including one ...

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