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Taylor v. United States

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

May 12, 2016

CHRISTIAN D. TAYLOR, Appellant,
v.
UNITED STATES, Appellee.

Argued September 15, 2015

Appeal from the Superior Court (CF1-11826-10) of the District of Columbia Criminal Division (Hon. Thomas J. Motley, Trial Judge)

Nicholas B. Lewis, with whom Anand V. Ramana and Christopher D. McEachran, were on the brief, for appellant.

Anne Y. Park, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Ronald C. Machen Jr., United States Attorney at the time the brief was filed, and Elizabeth Trosman, Chrisellen R. Kolb, Deborah Sines, and Glenn L. Kirschner, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.

BEFORE: Washington, Chief Judge; Fisher, Associate Judge; and Nebeker, Senior Judge.

JUDGMENT

This case came to be heard on the transcript of record and 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 the judgment on appeal is affirmed in part and remanded to the trial court for merger of the robbery convictions in accordance with this opinion.

OPINION

Nebeker, Senior Judge.

Appellant Christian D. Taylor appeals his convictions arising from the armed robbery of Lida Wholesale Market, during which the market's owners, Li Jen Chih and Ming Kun Chih, were killed. Appellant was convicted of two counts of first-degree premeditated murder, four counts of felony murder, burglary two while armed, robbery while armed, and seven counts of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence ("PFCV"). He alleges that the trial court erred when it found him competent to stand trial, declined to appoint him conflict-free counsel, and instructed the jury regarding the offense of felony murder during the course of the burglary. In addition, he contends that the government's evidence was insufficient for the jury to find premeditation and deliberation in order to support his first-degree premeditated murder convictions. We affirm in part, and remand for the trial court to vacate four of the murder convictions, and merge the robbery conviction. Resentencing is unnecessary.

I. Facts

On June 23, 2010, at around 3:00 p.m., appellant entered Lida Wholesale Market, located in the Northeast quadrant of the District near the intersection of 5th Street and Florida Avenue. After approaching the counter, appellant demanded, at gunpoint, money from Li Jen Chih, an owner of the market who was operating the cash register at the time. Li Jen Chih initially refused appellant's demand, causing appellant to fire a shot near, but not hitting, Li Jen Chih. After a scuffle over the gun, Li Jen Chih jumped over the counter to begin physically fighting with appellant. Additional shots were fired, after which Li Jen fell. Around that time, Ming Kun Chih, another owner of the store and Li Jen Chih's father, grabbed a pole and rushed at appellant. Appellant fired at least one additional shot, hitting Ming Kun Chih.

Bystanders outside of the market heard gunshots and saw a man exit the store, tuck a gun into his waistband, run down the street, and enter a silver Pontiac GT with the license plate number CV 3855. The car was identified as registered to appellant's mother. Employees inside the store at the time appellant entered testified to the sequence of events at trial, and identified appellant as the gunman. The events were captured by surveillance cameras, and two witnesses identified appellant as the gunman on the video. Two plastic bags found in the market near where the confrontations occurred were analyzed by DNA forensic experts. Appellant was deemed by the expert a major contributor to the ...


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