Gordon C. Carpenter and Tyrone P. Jones, Appellants,
United States, Appellee.
June 16, 2016
from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
(CF2-17930-13 and CF2-17953-13) (Hon. Patricia A. Broderick,
L. Resnick for appellant Jones.
J. Pafford for appellant Carpenter.
Lam Nguyen, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom
Channing D. Phillips, United States Attorney, and Elizabeth
Trosman, Nicholas P. Coleman, and Gilead Light, Assistant
United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.
Thompson and Easterly, Associate Judges, and Farrell, 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 judgments of conviction are affirmed.
PHYLLIS D. THOMPSON. ASSOCIATE JUDGE.
October 8, 2013, Tyrone Jones and Gordon Carpenter were
arrested in connection with a narcotics buy/bust operation.
Mr. Jones filed (and Mr. Carpenter joined) a motion to
suppress tangible evidence, which was denied. A jury
thereafter convicted each of them of one count of unlawful
distribution of a controlled substance (heroin), having heard
an undercover officer testify that she gave a $20 bill to
Jones, who gave the money to Carpenter, received from
Carpenter in return a ziplock bag of heroin, and gave the
ziplock bag to the officer. A few months after the jury
verdict, but before a scheduled sentencing proceeding, the
government made the following disclosure: that, near the end
of trial, after hearing testimony from both Carpenter and
Jones during the defense case, the courtroom clerk sent to
the prosecutor an email asserting that Carpenter and Jones
were "not telling the truth" when they claimed that
the money Jones paid Carpenter was for losing a bet on the
outcome of a professional football game the previous week. In
response to that disclosure, Jones filed a motion for a
mistrial, which the court denied.
appeal, Carpenter challenges the denial of the motion to
suppress and also argues that the trial court erred in
failing to strike, or to give a curative instruction with
respect to, a government witness's "unfair[ly]
prejudic[ial]" trial testimony regarding a concern about
officer safety. Jones contends that he is entitled to
reversal of his conviction, or at least to resentencing,
because of the courtroom clerk's email. For the reasons
that follow, we affirm.
moved to suppress the evidence, including six ziplock baggies
of crack cocaine, found on his person. In (orally)
joining Jones's motion, Carpenter did not clarify what
evidence he sought suppressed, but we understand from his
appellate brief that he challenged the admissibility of a
prerecorded $20 bill found on his person. At the suppression
hearing, the court (the Honorable Patricia A. Broderick)
heard from Metropolitan Police Department ("MPD")
Detective Phillip Robinson, who testified that, on October 8,
2013, MPD was conducting a buy/bust operation in the vicinity
of the 600 block of Division Avenue, N.E. Detective Robinson
explained that he was on the arrest team that day when
undercover officers went into the 600 block to try to buy
narcotics and were positioned near the wall of a
"short" stone bridge that begins at Division Avenue
and Foote Street and "then keeps going into the 600
block." Upon receiving a lookout for "two African
American males" "in the 600 block of Division
Avenue, around that bridge" from whom the officers had
received heroin in exchange for MPD funds, Detective Robinson
responded to the location, arriving in "less than a
minute." According to the lookout, "[b]oth [men]
had hats on, one [with] a gray hoody and white shirt and one
[with] a blue hoody and a cane[.]" When Detective
Robinson arrived at the scene, he saw two individuals fitting
the lookout description. The two individuals, appellants Jones
and Carpenter, were standing seven or eight feet apart from
each other at, close to, or by the bridge. Detective Robinson
testified that there were "[m]aybe ten other
people" "[i]n the immediate area" ("but
not by the bridge"),  but "[t]here was no one else on
that bridge . . . that would fit the description that the
undercovers gave" for either individual. Detective
Robinson did not see Jones and Carpenter talking or otherwise
five to ten or ten to fifteen minutes after Detective
Robinson had stopped appellants, the undercover officers who
had conducted the transaction returned to the scene and
positively identified Jones and Carpenter as the men with
whom they had engaged in the narcotics transaction. After the
undercover officers identified them, appellants were
of the defendants presented evidence at the motion hearing.
Without elaborate explanation, the judge denied the motion to
suppress, finding her decision "pretty easy."
trial, Detective Lavinia Quigley testified that, on October
8, 2013, she and Officer Courtney Clark were undercover and
were standing on the corner in the 600 block of Division
Avenue, N.E., when a man approached and asked them what they
wanted. Detective Quigley responded that they wanted
"blow[, ]" a "street name for heroin."
The man, whom the detective identified in court as Carpenter,
told them to wait, and he walked away. Approximately a minute
and a half later, another man, identified in court as Jones,
approached them and asked what they were looking for, and
Officer Clark responded they wanted "scramble"
(heroin that has been cut up with a cutting agent). The
officers walked with Jones to the nearby bridge, Detective
Quigley handed Jones a prerecorded $20 bill, and Jones
dropped the money off the side of the bridge to Carpenter,
who the detective could see was standing in the gully about
six or seven feet immediately below the bridge. Carpenter
then passed up a ziplock bag containing a tannish
powder.After leaving the location, the detective
and officer gave a prearranged signal to another undercover
officer. After the arrest team moved in and stopped the
defendants, the undercover officers returned three to four
minutes later and positively identified them as those
involved in the transaction.
Steven Manley testified that he provided surveillance and
security approximately two blocks away from the area of the
"buy" operation, and once he received the lookout,
he moved in "to detain the two subjects who matched the
description[.]" He testified that, after the undercover
officers returned and positively identified the individuals,
he arrested the men, whom he identified in court as Jones and
Carpenter. After arresting Carpenter, Detective Manley
searched Carpenter's pockets and found the prerecorded
$20 bill. Asked about whether his job was to observe the
actual transaction, Detective Manley explained:
[A]s an arrest team member, you don't want to be too
close because then you're putting your undercover
officer's life in danger. When you go into areas like
Division Avenue, if they see something that sticks out like a
sore thumb, they know you're either the police or . . .
you're from not around [this] area. So the whole thing
is[, ] I don't want to be too close to the undercover
officers, because, again, I'm putting their life in
for Carpenter objected and moved to strike because
"[t]here's nothing in this record that suggested
anybody's life was in danger." Judge Broderick did
not strike the answer but responded, "Well, there's
certainly no suggestion that life was endangered by these
Jones and Carpenter testified during the defense case.
Carpenter testified that on the day in question, he was
driving home from work when he stopped at Marvin Gaye Park in
the 600 block of Division Avenue, N.E., to meet friends. He
further testified that about a week earlier, he and Jones,
whom he knew from previous encounters at the park, had placed
a bet on a football game. Specifically, Carpenter testified
that Jones had bet $20 that the Washington football team
would beat Carpenter's favored team,  but that
Washington had lost the game, and so when Carpenter saw Jones
on October 8 (the first time he had seen Jones since the
football game), Carpenter asked Jones for the money the
latter owed for losing the bet. Carpenter testified that he
then walked to a nearby store where he stayed for ten to
twenty minutes, walked into a gully below a bridge near the
park to urinate, and then returned to Jones to get the money.
Carpenter testified that Jones handed him $20, and,
"seconds" later, the police arrived and said
Carpenter was under arrest for distribution of narcotics.
Carpenter denied having any narcotics in his possession at
the time and denied passing any narcotics to Jones.
testified that he was sitting on the bridge when he saw
Carpenter, with whom he had made a $20 bet the week before.
According to Jones, he had bet Carpenter that Washington
would win the football game, but Carpenter won the bet, and
so Jones paid him the $20. He testified that Carpenter was
down behind the bridge at one point, but he denied giving any
money to, or receiving anything from, Carpenter ...