Argued January 28, 2015
Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CMD-3858-13). (Hon. Robert E. Morin, Trial Judge).
Fletcher P. Thompson for appellant.
Kristina L. Ament, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Ronald C. Machen Jr., United States Attorney at the time the brief was filed, and Elizabeth Trosman, Suzanne G. Curt, David Misler, Karen Seifert, and Derrick Williams, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.
Before GLICKMAN and EASTERLY, Associate Judges, and KRAVITZ, Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.[*]
Glickman, Associate Judge
Appellant Girma Aboye was convicted of making bias-related threats to do bodily harm after he confronted a gay couple with homophobic slurs and threatened to kill them with his dog. On appeal, he makes two arguments: first, that the Bias-Related Crime Act does not apply to the offense of threats; and second, that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of that offense. We reject both contentions and affirm appellant's conviction.
The evidence presented at trial by the government may be summarized as follows. In 2012-2013, Michael Eichler and Zachary Rosen were an engaged gay couple living in Adams Morgan with their dog, Nico. Appellant owned a store in the neighborhood and also had a dog, Tarzan, who was described at trial as a brindled pit bull mix. The two dogs and their respective owners sometimes encountered each other while out walking; according to Eichler and Rosen, Tarzan usually was rather unsociable and even hostile to Nico. On one encounter in the fall of 2012, though, Eichler perceived Tarzan as friendly and attempted to lead Nico forward so that the two dogs could interact. Appellant, however, jerked Tarzan back and declared, " My dog doesn't like homosexuals. You are a homosexual, right?" Eichler affirmed that this was so, and appellant continued, " My dog doesn't like homosexuals; my dog doesn't like faggots."
A few months later, on the evening of March 11, 2013, Eichler, Rosen, and Nico happened to be sitting on the patio outside Chief Ike's Mambo Room in Adams Morgan, next door to appellant's store. Appellant
came outside to speak with someone on the sidewalk a short distance away from Eichler and Rosen. While they could not hear the entire conversation, they did hear appellant use the word " faggot" several times and make statements such as, " Look at those faggots." Rosen turned to ...