FURL J. WILLIAMS, ARTHUR TERENCE BULLOCK, and MARTEESE NORMAN, APPELLANTS,
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE
Argued May 15, 2014
This is an unpublished decision under D.C.App. R. 28 (h) and is of no precedential value except when used under res judicata, collateral estoppel, in a criminal action against same defendant or in a disciplinary action against the same respondent.
Appeals from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CF3-3568-12, CF3-3570-12, and CF3-3569-12). (Hon. Gerald I. Fisher, Trial Judge).
Peter H. Meyers, for appellant Williams.
Abram J. Pafford, for appellant Bullock.
Daniel M. Gonen, Public Defender Service, with whom James Klein and Jaclyn S. Frankfurt, Public Defender Service, were on the brief, for appellant Norman.
David B. Goodhand, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Ronald C. Machen Jr., United States Attorney at the time the brief was filed, and Elizabeth Trosman, Elizabeth H. Danello and Holly Shick, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.
Before WASHINGTON, Chief Judge, FISHER, Associate Judge, and REID, Senior Judge.
In these appeals, appellants Furl J. Williams, Arthur Terence Bullock and Marteese Norman, challenge their convictions of robbery on various grounds -- (1) insufficiency of the evidence (Mr. Williams and Ms. Norman), (2) erroneous denial of a motion to sever (Mr. Williams and Mr. Bullock), (3) erroneous denial of a motion to suppress (Mr. Williams and Mr. Bullock), and (4) abuse of discretion in dismissing a juror (Ms. Norman). Because of our disposition, we consider only the first issue. We hold that the evidence was insufficient to convict Mr. Williams, Ms. Norman and Mr. Bullock of robbery because the government's proof failed to establish at least one of the elements of that offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Consequently, we reverse appellants' robbery conviction.
The government presented evidence showing that Loi Chau, a forty-nine year-old man, worked the 2:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. shift at the Marriott Hotel on Connecticut Avenue, in the Northwest quadrant
of the District of Columbia. Mr. Chau testified as follows. After getting off from work on the night of February 24, 2012, he walked to the nearby Metro Elevator. As he " was pushing the button, waiting for the elevator to come up, [he] saw three people walk to him, and [he] did not know these people. And [he] ke[pt] pushing the button, waiting for the elevator to come up." The prosecutor asked, " [W]hat did those three people look like?" Mr. Chau responded, " They are three black Americans. I don't know them, so I keep pushing the button, waiting for the elevator." The people did not say anything but they " look[ed] back" at him and then approached Mr. Chau. They were about three to four feet from Mr. Chau, and he could " [n]ot quite touch them." Mr. Chau " was afraid that they had guns or knives," so he " took out [his] wallet and gave it to them and they left." Although he did not see any guns or knives, he " was afraid they [had] guns and knives because at that time it was very dark, and [he] was the only one there." He repeatedly said he was afraid the people had (a) gun(s) and/or (a) knife/knives. But on cross-examination Mr. Chau stated that the three people did not threaten him or make him afraid. See note 5, infra.
When the three people approached him two of them said, " What, what, what." Mr. Chau interpreted these words to mean, " do I have any money."  He did not have any money. His wallet contained his driver's license, Metro card, bank cards, union cards, and business cards. Initially Mr. Chau saw the faces of the three people when they were by the elevator where there was a light, but when they walked away he could only see their backs. Mr. Chau called 911 and reported that the people " took [his] money and they walked away." Mr. Chau spoke only " a little bit" of English and another man on the street helped him with the 911 call. Mr. Chau followed the people who had his wallet so that he could retrieve his Metro card. He was about three blocks behind the three individuals ...