Rahshawn King & Christopher T. Holmes, Appellants,
United States, Appellee.
Argued September 13, 2012
Appeals from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CF3-25174-08) (CF3-9696-09) (Hon. Lynn Leibovitz, Trial Judge)
Sloan S.J. Johnston for appellant King.
Donald Dworsky for appellant Holmes.
Leslie Ann Gerardo, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Ronald C. Machen Jr., United States Attorney, Roy W. McLeese III, Assistant United States Attorney at the time the brief was filed, John P. Mannarino and Todd W. Gee, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.
Before Washington, Chief Judge, Blackburne-Rigsby, Associate Judge, and Reid, Senior Judge.
Washington, Chief Judge:
Appellants Rahshawn King and Christopher Holmes were convicted after a joint jury trial of carjacking and robbing James Nelson at gunpoint in southeast D.C. on October 24, 2008. In addition, Holmes was independently convicted of obstruction of justice and conspiring to obstruct justice based on phone calls he made from jail to Terrence Connor between January 10, 2009, and February 24, 2009.
On appeal, Holmes argues that the trial court erred in allowing a police officer and a detective to testify as lay witnesses to the meaning of certain "street lingo" used in the phone calls between himself and Connor. King argues that the trial court erred in failing to sever his armed carjacking and robbery charges from Holmes' obstruction of justice charges and also argues that his two convictions for possession of a firearm during a crime of violence ("PFCV") should be merged. For the reasons stated below, we hold that the trial court did not err in allowing the police officers to offer lay opinion testimony on the meaning of certain street lingo and we reject King's contention that the trial court erred in allowing his carjacking and robbery counts to be joined with Holmes' obstruction count. However, we do agree that King's two PFCV counts merge and therefore, remand the case to the trial court so that one of King's two PFCV convictions can be vacated.
On October 24, 2008, King and Holmes pulled up in a car behind James Nelson as he was steps away from his car. King exited the car driven by Holmes and approached Nelson, demanding at gunpoint that Nelson hand over the car keys and $1, 000 in gambling winnings that he held in his hand. Nelson did as demanded and King got into Nelson's car, driving away with Holmes following behind in his car. A police officer who was parked near the incident heard gunshots and saw Nelson and Holmes' cars driving away "bumper to bumper." The officer began to follow the cars and a chase ensued, first by car, and then by foot once King abandoned the car and began running. King was apprehended, but Holmes, who escaped by car during the police car chase, was not apprehended until November 20, 2008.
Between January 10, 2009, and February 24, 2009, Holmes placed a series of calls to Terrence Connor from the District of Columbia jail where he was incarcerated. These calls were recorded and revealed that Holmes was conspiring with Connor to keep Nelson from "ratting and shit." Holmes was charged with obstruction of justice and conspiring to obstruct justice.
King and Holmes were charged with armed robbery; armed carjacking;unauthorized use of a vehicle ("UUV"); fleeing from a law enforcement officer;reckless driving; and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence. In addition, King was charged with two counts of destruction of property and Holmes was charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice. King and Holmes were tried together before a jury. Both appellants filed motions to sever defendants and counts pursuant to Super. Ct. Crim. R. 8 (b) and 14, but the motions were denied by the trial court on the basis that the obstruction of justice charge "followed logically upon and was the sequel to [the] underlying carjacking, " making the charges part of the "same transaction or occurrence." During the trial, Detective Francis and United States Park Police Officer William Sepeck, who listened to 30 to 40 hours of Holmes' jail telephone calls, testified, over ...