Francisca C. Miller, Appellant,
United States, Appellee.
May 7, 2019
from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
(DVM-358-13) (Hon. A. Franklin Burgess Jr., Trial Judge)
L. Biderman for appellant.
R. Bates, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Jessie
K. Liu, United States Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman, John
P. Mannarino, and Rikki D. McCoy, Assistant United States
Attorneys, were on the briefs, for appellee.
Beckwith and McLeese, Associate Judges, and Nebeker, Senior
MCLEESE, ASSOCIATE JUDGE
bench trial, appellant Francisca Miller was found guilty of
attempted possession of a prohibited weapon and attempted
threats to do bodily harm. Ms. Miller is not a United States
citizen, and it is uncontested that her convictions legally
authorize her to be removed from the United States. Relying
on our recent decision in Bado v. United States, 186
A.3d 1243 (D.C. 2018) (en banc), Ms. Miller argues among
other things that she was denied her constitutional right to
a jury trial. We agree, and we therefore vacate Ms.
Miller's convictions and remand for further proceedings.
United States's evidence at trial was as follows. On the
date of the offense, Ms. Miller lived at 3552 Warter Street
N.W. with Teresa Smith and Ms. Smith's boyfriend, Marquis
Childs. Ms. Smith heard an argument between Ms. Miller and
Mr. Childs. Entering the kitchen where the argument was
taking place, Ms. Smith asked what was going on. Ms. Miller
began to curse at Ms. Smith and stated she was going to cut
Ms. Smith's eye out. Ms. Miller then ran to her room and
retrieved a large butcher knife with an approximately
eight-inch blade and a black handle. Ms. Miller returned,
waved the knife around, and said "I'll fuck you
up," and "I'm going to get your ass,
bitch." Ms. Smith was scared and upset.
Smith called the police. A Metropolitan Police Department
(MPD) officer responded to the house and spoke with Ms.
Miller. Ms. Miller told the officer that she and Ms. Smith
had a verbal argument, but Ms. Miller denied wielding a
knife. The officer performed a consensual search of Ms.
Miller's room and found a knife with a black handle in
plain view. Mr. Childs identified that knife as the knife Ms.
Miller had wielded earlier. An MPD detective interviewed Ms.
Smith. Ms. Smith told the detective that Ms. Miller had
pulled a knife on her. Mr. Childs corroborated Ms.
defense evidence was as follows. Ms. Miller testified that on
the day of the incident she was talking to Mr. Childs in the
kitchen, that Mr. Childs threatened her, and that she was
afraid of him. She did not bring out a knife during the
argument or threaten anyone with a knife. She keeps cooking
knives in her room because she does not want them to go
missing and because of roaches and mice. John Osanyingbemi,
another resident of 3552 Warter Street, also testified. He
testified that he saw the argument in the kitchen and that no
one was holding any weapons or objects. Mr. Osanyingbemi told
Ms. Miller, Mr. Childs, and Ms. Smith to stop arguing, and
the group dispersed.
Miller contends that the evidence was insufficient to support
her convictions. We disagree.
assessing the sufficiency of the evidence, we "view the
evidence in the light most favorable to the [verdict], giving
full play to the right of the fact-finder to determine
credibility, weigh the evidence, and draw justifiable
inferences of fact." Cherry v. District of
Columbia, 164 A.3d 922, 929 (D.C. 2017) (internal
quotation marks omitted). The evidence is sufficient if,
"after viewing it in the light most favorable to the
[verdict], any rational trier of fact could have
found the essential elements of ...