DARIC M. WILSON, Appellant,
UNITED STATES, Appellee.
October 2, 2015
from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia Criminal
Division (CF2-2522-12), Hon. Stuart Nash, Trial Judge
Gonen, Public Defender Service, with whom James Klein and
Alice Wang, Public Defender Service, were on the brief, for
Amuluru, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Vincent
H. Cohen Jr., Acting United States Attorney, and Elizabeth
Trosman, Elizabeth H. Danello, and Damien Diggs, Assistant
United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.
Beckwith and Easterly, Associate Judges, and Belson, Senior
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
and ADJUDGED that the appellant's conviction of felony
assault is reversed, an the case is remanded for the trial
court to enter a judgment of conviction for simple assault.
CORINNE BECKWITH ASSOCIATE JUDGE.
jury trial, appellant Daric Wilson was convicted of one count
of assault with significant bodily injury stemming from a
quarrel about a cab fare with Salim Abubakar, the driver. As
a result of this dispute, Mr. Abubakar sustained cuts and
bruises to his face, experienced profuse bleeding, pain, and
dizziness, and was eventually taken to the hospital. On
appeal, Mr. Wilson raises only a sufficiency challenge,
contending that the government presented insufficient
evidence that the cuts and bruises amounted to
"significant bodily injury" under the statute. We
agree, and therefore reverse the conviction for felony
assault and remand for the trial court to enter a judgment of
conviction for the lesser included offense of simple
assault. See Quintanilla v. United States,
62 A.3d 1261, 1262, 1266 (D.C. 2013).
evening of February 10, 2012, appellant Daric Wilson, his
girlfriend, and a coworker named Jason Schneider hailed a
taxi in the Crystal City area of Arlington, Virginia. Mr.
Wilson and his girlfriend had recently finished dinner and
drinks, and they planned to spend the rest of the evening
with Mr. Schneider and some other friends in the Adams Morgan
neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Mr. Wilson and his
companions got into Salim Abubakar's cab, and from here
Mr. Abubakar's and Mr. Wilson's accounts diverge.
Abubakar testified that Mr. Wilson, who appeared to be
intoxicated, gave him imprecise and confusing instructions
about where he wanted to go in the District. Mr. Abubakar
explained that appellant eventually yelled at him to
"stop, stop, stop" near the intersection of 18th
Street and Florida Avenue, at which point the group exited
the car. Mr. Schneider then attempted to pay Mr. Abubakar the
fare,  but Mr. Wilson grabbed Mr. Schneider's
hand to prevent him from doing so while making comments that
"[were] hurtful to [Mr. Abubakar] as a human being [and]
that addressed [his] color and [him] in general as a human
being." Feeling afraid and threatened, Mr. Abubakar then
got out of the cab and walked to an area behind it. Mr.
Schneider eventually succeeded in paying the fare, but as Mr.
Abubakar was counting the money, Mr. Wilson walked up and
punched him "on top of [his] left eye." Mr.
Abubakar said that he immediately started bleeding and
"felt like [he was] really losing [his] eye, " and
he did not return the punch. He also said that he felt dizzy.
Mr. Wilson then began choking him with his arm, and at some
point both men fell, with Mr. Abubakar landing on his face on
the sidewalk.On the ground, Mr. Wilson continued
"holding [him] and stopping [him] from breathing, "
making Mr. Abubakar think he was "going to die."
Mr. Abubakar testified that Mr. Wilson was quietly saying to
him either "you will die" or "I will kill
you." Eventually, Mr. Schneider intervened to restrain
Mr. Wilson. With the conflict defused, Mr. Abubakar walked to
a nearby wall, seeking support because he still felt dizzy.
Paramedics soon arrived, took him to the ambulance, and
eventually transported him to the hospital.
Wilson's account, Mr. Abubakar, who seemed lost while
driving through the District, "ignor[ed] [Mr.
Wilson's] instructions [and] [went] in different, wrong
directions" after explaining that he was not familiar
with several of the locations Mr. Wilson suggested as a place
to be dropped off-the Adams Morgan neighborhood, 18th and U
Streets, or 18th and O Streets. Mr. Wilson therefore asked
Mr. Abubakar to pull over and let the group out. After the
passengers exited the car at the intersection of 18th and
Florida, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Abubakar started arguing about
the fare. Mr. Wilson testified that he refused to pay the
full amount because Mr. Abubakar had gotten lost. Contrary to
Mr. Abubakar's testimony, Mr. Wilson said that Mr.
Abubakar, still in his car, insisted on the full fare while
threatening to call the police. Mr. Wilson responded,
"Great, call the police; I'll wait right here."
to Mr. Wilson, Mr. Abubakar suddenly "lost it" and
began screaming at him and the other passengers. When Mr.
Abubakar left the cab, Mr. Schneider tried to pay him, but
Mr. Abubakar quickly "got angry again." Mr.
Abubakar then pushed Mr. Wilson, who pushed him back. This
tussling happened "maybe a couple of times" before
Mr. Abubakar "put his head down" and "[went]
to tackle" Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson testified that he was
"completely caught  off guard, " and that both
men fell over, with Mr. Abubakar's face hitting the
concrete. The two men grappled with each other on the ground,
and Mr. Wilson grabbed Mr. Abubakar from behind to prevent
him from flailing his arms and trying to hit him. After about
twenty seconds, Mr. Abubakar had calmed down. Mr. Wilson
consequently released him, reunited with his girlfriend and
Mr. Schneider, and had begun walking away from the scene when
the police arrived.
Metropolitan Police Department officers also testified as to
the extent of Mr. Abubakar's injuries. Officer Mark
McGrail testified that when he arrived on the scene, Mr.
Abubakar "appeared to be in visible pain" and
"was bleeding from his face" and "gushing
blood." Officer McGrail said he noticed "blood
dripping on the sweater that [Mr. Abubakar] was wearing,
" and described this bleeding as
"profuse"-ranking it a six on a scale of one
through ten. When he asked Mr. Abubakar what happened,
Mr. Abubakar "moaned instead of responding."
Officer McGrail testified that "you could just tell by
his face that he was in pain." After the paramedics
escorted Mr. Abubakar to the ambulance, he was treated there
"for quite a while, " possibly as long as half an
second officer, Raeniel Castillo, testified that when he
arrived on the scene, Mr. Abubakar "had cuts all over
his face, " "blood dripping down from his face onto
his clothes, " and "blood coming out of the
injuries just pouring down his face." Mr. Abubakar
"couldn't really talk that well, " and
"[a]t one point, his jaw wouldn't move."
Officer Castillo said the paramedics thought it might be
broken, and they took Mr. Abubakar to the hospital after
treating him in the ambulance. Officer Castillo characterized
the volume of blood as a seven on a scale of one through ten.
government presented no testimony from doctors or paramedics,
but it did introduce into evidence a series of photographs
taken when Mr. Abubakar was in the hospital. The photographs
depict Mr. Abubakar in a hospital bed with lacerations and
dried blood on his face, a ...