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Wynn v. United States

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

November 21, 2013

Ronald WYNN, Appellant,

Argued Dec. 6, 2012.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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David H. Reiter for appellant.

David B. Goodhand, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Ronald C. Machen Jr., United States Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman, Elizabeth H. Danello, T. Patrick Martin, and Sharad S. Khandelwal, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.

Before FISHER and OBERLY, Associate Judges, and FERREN, Senior Judge.

OBERLY, Associate Judge:

Ronald Wynn appeals his convictions for voluntary manslaughter while armed, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence (" PFCV" ),[1] carrying a pistol without a license (" CPWL" ),[2] felon in possession of a firearm (" FIP" ),[3] possession of an unregistered firearm (" UF" ), [4] possession of unregistered ammunition (" UA" ),[5] and obstruction of justice.[6] Wynn's convictions arise out of the shooting of Daniel Clark on July 28, 2008. At his first trial, Wynn was convicted of CPWL, FIP, UF, UA, and obstruction of justice, but the jury hung on the PFCV count and the

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original count of first-degree murder.[7] Wynn was convicted of PFCV and the lesser-included offense of voluntary manslaughter while armed at his second trial. He now makes three arguments on appeal. First, Wynn argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction under D.C.Code ยง 22-722(a)(3)(B), the portion of the Code that criminalizes the harassment of witnesses with the intent to obstruct the reporting of criminal offenses to law enforcement. Second, he claims that juror coercion tainted his convictions for CPWL, FIP, UF, UA, and obstruction of justice at his first trial. Finally, Wynn contends that the trial court erred at his second trial by permitting a witness to claim the privilege against self-incrimination when otherwise that witness would have testified favorably for him. We agree with Wynn's first argument and reverse the judgment against him for obstruction of justice. We find his other arguments without merit and affirm the remainder of his convictions.

I. Facts

A. The Shooting

On the late afternoon of July 28, 2008, Daniel Clark, his wife Bonita Clark, and their children arrived at a cookout at the Buena Vista Terrace apartments near their home in Southeast, Washington, D.C. A few hours into the cookout, Wynn drove up to an apartment near the cookout and dropped off his co-worker Terrence Brooks. Wynn and Brooks double-parked Wynn's car on the street in front of the cookout and exited the vehicle. Wynn left the car in the street and went to talk to some people he knew at the cookout. Bonita approached Wynn and asked him to move his car so that other vehicles could drive down the street unimpeded. A verbal, and possibly physical, dispute ensued between Bonita and Wynn. The argument escalated when Daniel approached Wynn and took issue with Wynn's behavior toward Bonita. The quarrel turned violent and the two men fought until separated by other people at the cookout. Witnesses testified that Wynn said to Daniel, " I kill little niggers like you."

Daniel told Wynn to " stay here" and walked toward his home. Several witnesses saw Wynn then retrieve a pistol from his car. After obtaining his pistol, Wynn followed Daniel and tapped him on the shoulder. Wynn shot Daniel in the head when he turned around. After he shot Daniel, Wynn reportedly said, " Fuck you and your bitch."

Wynn fled the scene and went to the apartment of his girlfriend, Veronica Morris, several blocks away. At the apartment, Wynn changed out of his clothes and spoke to Veronica's daughter, Brittany, telling her that " nothing was wrong."

B. Wynn's Interactions with Veronica and Brittany Morris

Although Wynn told Brittany that " nothing was wrong," he asked her to call her mother. Wynn told her to tell Veronica that if anyone asked Veronica about Wynn, Veronica was to say that Wynn had been with her at the time of the shooting. Veronica, unaware of any of the facts surrounding the shooting, was confused and repeatedly asked Brittany what was happening. In response, Wynn told Brittany to tell her mother not to worry, which Brittany did. Veronica testified that her reaction to Wynn's message was one of substantial confusion. She said that " she didn't even pay [any] attention to [Wynn's request]" because she " didn't comprehend it at all." Wynn, who had been regularly staying at Veronica's apartment in the

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days leading up to the shooting, fled and did not have any interaction with Veronica until several days later. Wynn called Veronica by phone and told her that " it wasn't me," but kept the ...

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