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Brown v. United States

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

April 17, 2014

DARIUS BROWN and JAMAL SHEPHERD, APPELLANTS,
v.
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE

Argued December 5, 2013.

Page 99

Appeals from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CF3-10578-11 and CF3-15407-10). (Hon. Ronna Lee Beck, Trial Judge).

Debra L. Soltis, with whom Paul Y. Kiyonaga was on the brief, for appellant Darius Brown.

Richard S. Stolker for appellant Jamal Shepherd.

John P. Gidez, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Ronald C. Machen Jr., United States Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman, John P. Mannarino, and Ephraim Wernick, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.

Before FISHER and BLACKBURNE-RIGSBY, Associate Judges, and BELSON, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 100

Fisher, Associate Judge :

Following a jury trial, appellants Jamal Shepherd and Darius Brown were convicted of several offenses related to a shooting and the subsequent police investigation. Shepherd now challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions for obstruction of justice and carrying a pistol without a license (" CPWL" ).[1] Brown challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting all four of his convictions: perjury, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and two counts of obstruction of justice. Rejecting these claims and various others that appellants raise, we affirm.

I. Factual Background

During the afternoon of February 9, 2010, Jamal Brooks got into a heated argument with his neighbor, Raymond Washington. Later that evening, Brooks brought three of his friends (including both appellants) to the house where Washington was staying. Brooks, who was carrying a revolver in his back pocket, then resumed his argument with Washington. Brooks's three friends joined the bickering and, after about fifteen minutes, appellant Shepherd suddenly grabbed Brooks's gun and shot Washington in the head and arm. Although Washington survived, the bullet to his head destroyed his right eye.

In the investigation that followed, the police had considerable difficulty identifying the shooter. They initially arrested Brooks, who admitted that he and appellant Brown had witnessed the shooting. Brooks made it clear that someone else had been the shooter, but he denied knowing who the shooter was. Consequently, detectives turned the focus of their investigation to Brown.

Detectives interviewed Brown for the first time on April 14, 2010. At that time, according to evidence presented at trial, Brown knew that Brooks had been arrested and was being held in jail.[2] Brown gave detectives a detailed physical description of the shooter, but he denied (as Brooks had) knowing the shooter's name. Brown told detectives he had only seen the shooter on two occasions prior to the night of the shooting.

The next day, Brown testified before a grand jury that was investigating the shooting. As part of his testimony, Brown provided his account of the shooting and again gave a detailed physical description of the shooter. The prosecutor asked Brown if he had ever seen the shooter before, and Brown responded, " Only on, like, two other occasions before that." The prosecutor followed up by asking, " Did you know his name?" Brown answered, " No. I only--like, [Brooks] introduced me to him but, like, introduced me by nickname, and I don't really recall it." The prosecutor then asked, " So you don't know what his name is, or any nickname?" Brown replied, " I think [Brooks] was calling him, like, Moe."

By the end of Brown's grand jury testimony, detectives still did not know the

Page 101

identity of the shooter. However, Brooks eventually cooperated with investigators and identified his longtime friend Shepherd as the shooter. Detectives also learned that Brown had lied about not knowing Shepherd and that the two men had conspired in an attempt to prevent Brooks from cooperating with authorities. As a result, Brown and Shepherd were both indicted for their respective roles in the ...


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