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Hayes v. United States

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

February 12, 2015


Argued: November 6, 2014.

Page 1111

Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CF2-14970-11). (Hon. Heidi M. Pasichow, Trial Judge).

Matthew G. Kaiser, with whom Allison Lansell was on the brief, for appellant.

Anne Y. Park, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Ronald C. Machen Jr., United States Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman, Elizabeth H. Danello, and Jin Y. Park, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.

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


Page 1112

Blackburne-Rigsby, Associate Judge :

Following a jury trial, appellant Cassandra Hayes was found guilty of assault with significant bodily injury and aggravated assault.[1] Appellant's principal theory at trial was that Mattie Eubank (" Eubank" ) assaulted the victim, Eleanor Crump (" Crump" ). Eubank was prepared to corroborate this theory by testifying at trial in exchange for immunity, but the government declined to immunize her after finding potential for perjury during a debriefing procedure pursuant to Carter v. United States, 684 A.2d 331 (D.C. 1996) (en banc). Without immunity, Eubank invoked her privilege against self-incrimination and declined to testify about her actions during the assault. On appeal, appellant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by failing to sufficiently inquire into the government's refusal to immunize Eubank. Had the trial court so inquired, appellant contends, it would have found that the government had no reasonable basis for refusing immunity and therefore should have given the government the choice to grant immunity or suffer dismissal of the indictment. We affirm.

I. Factual Background

The events giving rise to appellant's conviction are disputed by the parties, and this dispute provides the impetus for the issues on appeal. The undisputed facts, however, are as follows. On the evening of April 29, 2011, at around 7:00 p.m., appellant and a group of friends gathered at Kari Novelli's (" Novelli" ) house in Maryland for a birthday celebration. They drank alcohol at Novelli's house over the next three hours before leaving at around 10:00 p.m. in a rented limousine for a one hour ride to the District Nightclub in Washington, District of Columbia, located at 2471 18th Street, Northwest. The group brought liquor into the passenger

Page 1113

compartment of the limousine and continued drinking during the ride. Upon arriving at the District Nightclub, they went to a reserved VIP section and continued to drink throughout the evening. At around 2:00 a.m., Eleanor Crump, the complainant, walked out of the club alone and entered the limousine, which was waiting in front of the nightclub. The limousine's driver sat in the driver seat, but Crump was the only person in the passenger compartment.

From this point, appellant and the government provide different versions of the ensuing events, though only appellant, Eubank, and Crump were direct observers. Appellant offered her own testimony at trial, which Eubank corroborated, to establish her version of events as follows. At around 2:00 a.m., one member of the group, Tiffany Fink (" Fink" ), had become so intoxicated that she could no longer walk on her own, so appellant and Eubank walked with Fink from the club to the waiting limousine. As appellant and Eubank helped Fink through the rear passenger door, appellant spotted Crump sitting inside the limousine smoking a cigarette by a window and asked Crump to move over so that they could lay Fink on the seat by the window in case she needed to vomit. Crump began to yell and curse at them and appellant responded by repeating her request more aggressively, eventually convincing Crump to move and allowing appellant and Eubank to lay Fink on the seat. Appellant sat next to Crump on the seat across from Fink while Crump continued to yell and curse, prompting appellant to say " shut up." In response, Crump spit in appellant's face and appellant pushed Crump's face away. Appellant and Eubank left the limousine and briefly spoke to Novelli on the sidewalk outside while Crump yelled after them, prompting Novelli to tell Crump to " shut up." Appellant and Eubank went to a nearby pizza shop, where appellant wiped the spit from her face and the two ordered pizza before returning to the limousine to eat. Again, Crump began to yell at appellant and Eubank, to which they responded by cursing at her and telling her to " shut up." Crump slapped the bottom of Eubank's pizza plate, knocking pizza ...

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