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Brooks v. United States

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

June 4, 2015

FLOYD E. BROOKS, APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE

Argued May 5, 2015.

Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CF1-24121-09). (Hon. Lynn Leibovitz, Trial Judge).

Thomas D. Engle, with whom Sharon L. Burka was on the brief, for appellant.

John Cummings, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Ronald C. Machen Jr., United States Attorney at the time the brief was filed, and Elizabeth Trosman, John P. Mannarino, and S. Vinet Bryant, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.

Before GLICKMAN and THOMPSON, Associate Judges, and FARRELL, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 1218

Farrell, Senior Judge :

A jury found appellant guilty of two counts of armed premeditated murder and related firearms offenses arising from the shooting deaths of brothers Robert and Raymond Williams. Appellant claims error in the trial court's twofold ruling that allowed the prosecutor (a) to impeach a defense witness, Vernon Parrish, with his prior inconsistent statements to defense counsel and a defense investigator disclosed in appellant's in limine motion to admit Parrish's third-party perpetrator testimony under Winfield v. United States, 676 A.2d 1 (D.C. 1996) (en banc), and (b) to " complete the impeachment" bye a stipulation of the parties that Parrish, contrary to his denials on the stand, had made the inconsistent statements to the defense team.

This procedure, for which neither party cites a reported decision on point, presents troublesome issues that we discuss briefly in Part I, infra. But because no objection was made to the trial judge's ruling, our review is for plain error, and, as we explain in Part II, on this record there is no reason to believe that appellant's substantial rights were affected by the challenged procedure. We therefore affirm.

I.

A.

The prosecution's theory was that appellant shot Robert Williams to death on the street out of anger after Williams " disrepect[ed]" him in public by accusing him of selling drugs, and killed Raymond Williams simultaneously to prevent reprisal or eliminate an eyewitness. Several government witnesses incriminated appellant, and we summarize their testimony later. Our present focus is on what transpired after Vernon Parrish's testimony for the defense was ruled admissible before trial under Winfield, and Parrish testified that he had seen an unknown man who was not appellant get out of a car holding a handgun and fire multiple shots at the Williams brothers.

In keeping with the Winfield decision,[1] appellant's in limine motion to admit testimony, while not naming Parrish, proffered in detail his expected testimony that a man " who did not in any manner ...


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