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Saidi v. United States

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

February 26, 2015

BEN SAIDI, APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE

Argued January 28, 2015

Page 607

Appeal fro the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (2013-DVM-2520). (Hon. Ronna L. Beck, Trial Judge).

Vacated and Remanded.

Rahkel Bouchet, appointed by the court, for appellant.

J. Matt Williams, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Ronald C. Machen Jr., United States Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman, John P. Mannarino, Orla M. Brady, and Ann K. H. Simon, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.

Before GLICKMAN and EASTERLY, Associate Judges, and KRAVITZ, Associate Judge, Superior Court of the District of Columbia.[*]

OPINION

Page 608

Kravitz, Associate Judge

A judge of the Superior Court found appellant Ben Saidi guilty of assault following a non-jury trial. Mr. Saidi appeals, contending that the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to support his conviction and that the trial judge failed to make adequate " special findings" in accordance with his timely request under Rule 23(c) of the Superior Court Rules of Criminal Procedure. We reject the legal sufficiency argument but agree that the trial judge did not make the requisite findings on all disputed issues of fact and law essential to the resolution of a defense-of-property defense advanced by Mr. Saidi at trial. We therefore vacate Mr. Saidi's conviction and remand the case for further proceedings in the trial court.

I.

Michael Wilson was at home by himself in his first floor apartment unit at 308 Florida Avenue, N.W. at approximately 1:30 a.m. on November 4, 2013 when he heard women's voices yelling and crying in the upstairs unit of the building. Mr. Wilson tried to ignore the voices, but when they persisted he decided he should investigate and intercede if necessary.

The building at 308 Florida Avenue, N.W. is a two-story townhouse divided into

Page 609

two separate apartment units, with one apartment on each floor. Mr. Wilson lived in the first-floor apartment along with a roommate named Barbara, described as " the landlady" of the building. Mr. Saidi lived in the second-floor apartment with a roommate named Brianna Morris. The front door to the building opened into a common entry hall with two internal doors, one leading directly into the first-floor apartment, the other to a set of stairs that ascended to the second-floor apartment. The occupants generally kept the front door to the building locked and the internal doors to the first- and second-floor apartments closed but unlocked.

Mr. Wilson knocked on the door to the stairs leading to the second-floor apartment, poked his head into the stairwell, and hollered up the stairs, asking whether everything was okay. Ms. Morris responded that things were " not okay," and Mr. Wilson climbed the stairs to the second-floor unit, where he found Ms. Morris and another woman named Samantha in the living room and Mr. Saidi in the kitchen. Ms. Morris was standing in the corner of the living room by the fireplace, sobbing, with Samantha standing nearby, trying to comfort her. Mr. Saidi was sitting at his computer at a table in the kitchen, clearly drunk. Mr. Wilson asked what was going on, and Ms. Morris told him that Mr. Saidi had been making crude remarks and advances toward her and that she was afraid to remain in the upstairs apartment with him overnight. Mr. Wilson offered Ms. Morris ...


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