13 A.3d 1064 (R.I. 2011), 2009-249-C.A., State v. Johnson

Docket Nº:2009-249-C.A.
Citation:13 A.3d 1064
Opinion Judge:FLAHERTY, Justice.
Party Name:STATE v. Kendall JOHNSON.
Attorney:Aaron L. Weisman, Department of Attorney General, for State. Catherine Gibran, Office of the Public Defender, for Defendant.
Case Date:February 18, 2011
Court:Supreme Court of Rhode Island

Page 1064

13 A.3d 1064 (R.I. 2011)



Kendall JOHNSON.

No. 2009-249-C.A.

Supreme Court of Rhode Island.

February 18, 2011

Aaron L. Weisman, Department of Attorney General, for State.

Catherine Gibran, Office of the Public Defender, for Defendant.


Page 1065


FLAHERTY, Justice.

This case came before the Supreme Court on February 1, 2011, pursuant to an order directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised in this appeal should not summarily be decided. After hearing the arguments of counsel and reviewing the memoranda submitted on behalf of the parties, we are satisfied that cause has not been shown. Accordingly, we shall decide the appeal at this time without further briefing or argument. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.

Facts and Travel

On August 26, 2008, Kendall Johnson was charged by information in the Superior Court of Providence County on four counts: (1) assault with a dangerous weapon (namely, a firearm) upon Donald Washington; (2) discharging a firearm while committing a crime of violence, causing injury to Mr. Washington; (3) assault with intent to rob Mr. Washington; and (4) carrying a pistol without a license.1

The prosecution alleged that Mr. Johnson and a companion, both of whom had been visiting Yolanda Reed in her apartment on the night of April 1, 2008, left when another friend of hers, Donald Washington, arrived. The men passed each other as they exited and entered the apartment, respectively. Later, while Mr. Washington and Ms. Reed were on the porch smoking, defendant and his companion walked by them twice. A short time after the pair passed a second time, a tall, thin man, identified unequivocally by Ms. Reed as " Kendall Johnson" or " Dang," came around the corner wearing a ski mask that covered much of his face.2 He approached Mr. Washington and demanded that Mr. Washington remove the chain he was wearing around his neck and give it to him.3 Ms. Reed, who thought the demand was a joke, simply laughed. The assailant wasn't joking, however, and he asked for the chain again. After Mr. Washington denied the assailant's demand a second time, the assailant pulled out a gun and pointed it at Mr. Washington's chest. When Mr. Washington again refused to relinquish his jewelry, the assailant fired the weapon, hitting Mr. Washington in the arm and head. Mr. Washington escaped into the apartment and the assailant fled.

At a jury trial, the defendant was identified as the gunman, and he was convicted on all four counts of the information and sentenced to an aggregate of thirty years in prison, with thirteen years to serve, five of which were to be non-parolable.4 The defendant filed this timely appeal.

Standard of Review

This Court consistently has held that determining the admissibility of evidence

Page 1066

is squarely within the purview of the trial justice. See State v. McManus, 990 A.2d 1229, 1234 (R.I.2010); State v. Reyes, 984 A.2d 606, 614-15 (R.I.2009); Ferrell v. Wall, 889 A.2d 177, 188 (R.I.2005). We will not disturb a trial justice's evidentiary ruling without first determining that the ruling constitutes a clear abuse of his or her discretion. McManus, 990 A.2d at 1234; Reyes, 984 A.2d at 614-15; Ferrell, 889 A.2d at 188.



Not Hearsay

The sole issue raised by defendant in this appeal is that the trial justice committed reversible error when he admitted into evidence statements by Ms. Reed and Providence Police Department Det. A'vant about defendant's nickname. The defendant maintains that those statements were hearsay. Rule 801(c) of the...

To continue reading