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Williams v. United States

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

March 23, 2017

JAYVON WILLIAMS, Appellant,
v.
UNITED STATES, Appellee.

          Argued October 20, 2016

         Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CMD-17678-14) (Hon. Ann O'Regan Keary, Trial Judge)

          Anna B. Scanlon for appellant.

          Vivian E. Kim, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Channing D. Phillips, United States Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman, Assistant United States Attorney, were on the brief, for appellee.

          Before Glickman and Beckwith, Associate Judges, and Belson, Senior Judge.

         JUDGMENT

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

         ORDERED and ADJUDGED that appellant's conviction is reversed and remanded with directions to enter a judgment of acquittal.

          OPINION

          James A. Belson Senior Judge

         Appellant was charged by information with one count of receiving stolen property, [1] one count of unlawful possession of ammunition, [2] and one count of failure to obey a lawful order.[3] After a three day bench trial, the court granted appellant's motion for judgment of acquittal as to the unlawful possession of ammunition, found appellant not guilty of failure to obey a lawful order, and found him guilty of misdemeanor receiving stolen property - four identification cards. Appellant filed a timely appeal in which he challenged the sufficiency of the evidence. For the reasons stated below, we reverse the conviction.

         I.

         At 10:30 P.M., a group of men approached Officer Steven Good for assistance at 1133 North Capitol Street, Northeast, and asked to borrow his phone. The men provided Officer Good with their names. At 4:00 A.M. the next day, Officer Good observed a different group of men standing on the west side of First Place, Northwest. Officer Good made eye contact with appellant, who subsequently nudged a backpack in a way that Officer Good characterized as an attempt to push it out of the officer's sight. Officer Good approached the group of men and inquired if they had a moment to talk. In response to the officer's question, the group took off running. Appellant and another man ran south. Good's partner, Officer Ryan Jensrud, found appellant lying down alongside an air-conditioning unit and clutching a backpack. The officers searched the backpack and found a single bullet, a wallet, jewelry items including watches, and four identification cards. The men pictured on the identification cards matched the faces and names of the men who had approached the officer to use his phone the previous evening. Later, appellant said to the officer, referring to the other man who was with him, "He had nothing to do with it. You can let him go. I did it all on my own."[4]

         At trial, Officer Good did not describe the identification cards in detail or state what kind of identification cards he recovered from the backpack. He did not indicate whether the cards were government-issued identification cards, nor did he state whether the cards were expired or currently valid. The only detail provided was that the cards bore names and photographs. The identification cards were not introduced into evidence.

         Officer Good began to testify that the four men who approached asking for his phone said that they had been robbed. The defense immediately interposed an objection, which the court sustained. The trial judge ruled that his statement regarding robbery was hearsay, but that she would allow the officer to ...


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