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High v. United States

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

December 24, 2015

MILON C. HIGH, JR., Appellant,
v.
UNITED STATES, Appellee

Argued April 9, 2015.

Page 1018

Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CMD-11538-13). (Hon. John McCabe, Trial Judge).

Paul J. Riley for appellant.

Adrienne Dawn Gurley, 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 David Misler, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.

Before FISHER and EASTERLY, Associate Judges, and Ruiz, Senior Judge.

Page 1019

JUDGMENT

Vanessa Ruiz, J.

This case came to be heard on the transcript of record, the briefs filed, and was argued by counsel. On consideration whereof, and as set forth in the opinion filed this date, it is now hereby

ORDERED and ADJUDGED that appellant's conviction for attempted threats to do bodily harm is reversed, and the matter is remanded with instructions to enter a judgment of acquittal.

Appellant, Milon C. High, Jr., was convicted of one count of attempted threats[1] following a bench trial. Appellant contends that the government presented insufficient evidence to support his conviction, specifically arguing that the words he uttered would not convey fear of serious bodily harm or injury to the ordinary hearer. We agree, and reverse appellant's conviction for attempted threats.[2]

I. Facts

Late in the afternoon on July 5, 2013, appellant was arrested for unlawful entry in the Northeast quadrant of the District of Columbia by Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Officers Brock Vigil, Nicholas Smith, John Stathers, and " possibly" Dwight Jones.[3] Officer Vigil, the government's sole witness at trial, testified that the arresting officers, who were assigned to the MPD " Vice Unit," were wearing plain clothes but with tactical vests labeled " Police" and police badges. Officer Vigil also testified that at the time, he and his partner, Officer Smith, patrolled the area appellant was arrested in " [a]t least once a day," and that Vigil " immediately" recognized appellant when he saw him. Appellant was taken into custody, handcuffed, and sat down " on the curb." [4] Smith, standing " [w]ithin a few feet" of appellant, then began to ask appellant for basic identifying information, such as his name, date of birth, and social security number, in order to properly fill out a booking form.

Appellant did not respond to Officer Smith's questions, and instead " glar[ed]" at him. Appellant then said to Officer Smith, " take that gun and badge off and I'll fuck you up." Appellant " continued to look directly at [Officer Smith]" after making the statement. A few seconds later, appellant made a second statement, " something to the effect of, too bad it's not like the old days where fucking up an officer is ...


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