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Foster v. United States

Court of Appeals of The District of Columbia

November 7, 2019

Deangelo Foster, Appellant,
v.
United States, Appellee.

          Argued March 28, 2019

          Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CMD-8360-17) (Hon. Anthony C. Epstein, Trial Judge)

          Nicholas Q. Elton for appellant.

          Ethan Carroll, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Jessie K. Liu, United States Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman and Kamilah O. House, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.

          Before Beckwith and McLeese, Associate Judges, and Ruiz, Senior Judge.

          BECKWITH, ASSOCIATE JUDGE

         After a bench trial, appellant Deangelo Foster was found guilty of one count of unlawful entry stemming from his presence on the grounds of a District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) property he had been barred from two days earlier. On appeal, he argues that he could not be found guilty of unlawful entry because the government failed to establish that he was on the property without authority. Specifically, Mr. Foster contends that he lived in-and thus was authorized to be at-the DCHA apartment complex from which he was barred, and he contests the trial court's conclusion that he could be barred from a part of the complex that security officers viewed as separate from the part where he resided. We agree with Mr. Foster and reverse his conviction.

         I.

         According to the evidence at trial, Hopkins Apartments was a DCHA housing development that encompassed six buildings in the area roughly bounded by 10th and 15th Streets and I and M Streets in Southeast D.C. Charles Roberts, a special police officer who provided security at DCHA housing developments, was working on patrol at Hopkins Apartments when he encountered Deangelo Foster near an apartment building at 1000 12th Street SE. After a brief interaction, Officer Roberts issued Mr. Foster a barring notice pursuant to the regulation governing the public housing barring policy. See 14 DCMR § 9600 (2005). The barring notice stated that Mr. Foster was not permitted to be on the property described as "Hopkins I," which included 1000 12th Street-where the encounter occurred-as well as two other buildings at 1121 and 1131 K Street SE. At the time, Mr. Foster lived at 1025 13th Street SE in another part of Hopkins Apartments.[1]

         Another special police officer, Anthony Glasgow, testified that he was working at a different DCHA development two days later when he received a call that Mr. Foster was on the grounds of the apartment building at 1131 K Street SE. Officer Glasgow and other officers responded to the area, saw Mr. Foster standing with a group of other people "inside the gates of 1131 K Street," and arrested him for unlawfully entering the property in violation of the previous barring notice.

         In his own testimony, Mr. Foster stated that at the time the police arrested him, he was on his way to deliver a Mother's Day gift at the apartment he shared with his mother, Monica Wheeler. Ms. Wheeler herself testified that there were multiple buildings in the Hopkins complex, and that to get to her apartment building, "[y]ou can cut through the buildings, or you can come the long way, which is way down from Pennsylvania Avenue[.]" She also identified the lease for her apartment at 1025 13th Street SE and noted that it listed "Deangelo Foster" as a member of her household. The lease was admitted into evidence.

         The trial court found Mr. Foster guilty of unlawful entry after determining that the government had proven that he was lawfully barred from 1131 K Street when he was found on that property two days after receiving the barring notice. In reaching that conclusion, the court credited the testimony of Officers Roberts and Glasgow and Ms. Wheeler, including Ms. Wheeler's testimony about the lease.

         II.

         On appeal, Mr. Foster argues that the record contains insufficient evidence to show that Hopkins Apartments consisted of more than one legally distinct DCHA property, especially when considering the lease that was admitted into evidence during his mother's testimony. Because a resident of Hopkins Apartments had authority to be on the entire property, Mr. Foster contends, the barring notice was invalid under the ...


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