398 F.2d 91 (8th Cir. 1968), 18928, Hanger v. United States

Docket Nº:18928-18930.
Citation:398 F.2d 91
Party Name:Harold HANGER, Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee. Gale MIXEN, Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee. Loretta MEYER, Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.
Case Date:June 28, 1968
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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398 F.2d 91 (8th Cir. 1968)

Harold HANGER, Appellant,


UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.

Gale MIXEN, Appellant,


UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.

Loretta MEYER, Appellant,


UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.

Nos. 18928-18930.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

June 28, 1968

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Stanley H. Chorlins, Clayton, Mo., for appellant Mixen.

Paul V. Gilbert, St. Louis, Mo., for appellant Hanger.

Joseph Anthony Dill, St. Louis, Mo., for appellant Meyer.

William C. Martin, Asst. U.S. Atty., St. Louis, Mo., for appellee; Veryl L. Riddle, U.S. Atty., on the brief.

Before MATTHES, GIBSON and HEANEY, Circuit Judges.

FLOYD R. GIBSON, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri from judgments of conviction entered upon jury verdicts finding the defendants, Harold Hanger, Gale Mixen and Loretta Meyer, guilty of bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) and of conspiracy to commit the offense of bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. The defendants were first tried November 29-30, 1966, and verdicts of guilty were returned. A motion for a new trial on the basis of newly discovered evidence was subsequently granted, and the defendants were retried on June 12-13, 1967. A jury again found the defendants guilty and judgments of convictions were entered. A timely appeal followed.

Defendants, who were jointly indicted and tried, raise eight grounds of alleged error and, in addition, argue that the evidence was insufficient to support their convictions and that the Court erred in not sustaining their motions for judgment of acquittal. We will consider each point seriatim. However, after a careful consideration of the evidence and the errors alleged by defendants, we are of the opinion that they received a fair trial and that the evidence supports the jury's findings of guilt. We affirm the judgments of conviction.

The crimes of which the defendants were convicted relate to the robbery of the Chippewa Trust Company of St. Louis on April 8, 1966. The physical act of entering the Bank and taking the money was accomplished by one, Marvin E. Riley, 1 who was identified as the robber. Riley plead guilty to the charge of robbing the Bank and was the principal witness for the Government at both the first and second trials of defendants.

Riley testified that on April 6, 1966, in response to a telephone call from Hanger, he went to a bar where he met the three defendants. Hanger asked Riley if he wanted to rob a bank and Riley replied he would have to go and look at it. The next morning, April 7, 1966, defendants in Mixen's car picked Riley up at his residence and they drove to the south part of St. Louis to the parking lot of the Chippewa Trust Company. Mixen gave Riley two dollars to exchange for a roll of nickles in the Bank, and told Riley to 'look the place over' and see what he thought of it. After coming out of the Bank, and replying that 'everything looked all right,' Riley was driven around the vicinity of the Bank and the escape route that he was to utilize was explained to him. He was to cut through the Bank's parking lot, go down an alley in back of the Bank, through a fence and come out on the next street over from the Bank where he would be picked up. On the morning of April 8, 1966, Hanger called Riley, asked him if he were ready, and told him to get a change of clothes and a brown paper sack. Shortly thereafter the defendants picked up Riley and they drove around looking for an automobile to steal. After being observed by police

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officers in the vicinity of 14th and Clark ('they looked at us pretty hard'), the idea of stealing an auto in that area was discarded. Riley then proposed using the car he had previously sold his brother, a 1955 red and white Ford station wagon. Riley got the station wagon and parked it a few blocks from the Bank. Riley and the defendants then proceeded to drive around St. Louis in order to steal a license plate to put on the auto, which theft Riley accomplished. They then went to Mixen's home where Riley was made up with a heavy moustache by Mixen and Hanger, and Meyer covered a scar on Riley's face with women's makeup. Mixen gave Riley a pair of black-rimmed reading glasses, a brown hat and a brown accordion briefcase. Riley was offered a .38 snub-nosed pistol, but refused it, saying he 'was too nervous, too shaky to take a pistol.'

Riley and the defendants then drove in Mixen's auto to where the station wagon was parked about three or four blocks from the Bank. Hanger and Riley got into the station wagon, and Hanger dropped Riley off one block from the Bank at the prearranged rendezvous point. Riley walked into the Bank, about 12:30 p.m., and after standing in line for a few minutes walked out and back to where Hanger was parked in the station wagon with the motor running. He explained that there was a guard in the Bank that he thought was watching him. Hanger, displeased at Riley's abortive attempt, then drove about fifteen blocks where they met Mixen and Meyer. The four then discussed Riley's failure to perform. Hanger and Mixen stated 'they needed money pretty bad' and 'the idea come up about a supermarket.'

Riley and Hanger then drove in the Ford to a shopping center in north St. Louis via Interstate 70, followed by Mixen and Meyer. Detective Scheetz, also driving on Interstate 70, recognized Hanger and Riley, particularly noticing the latter's moustache since he had never known Riley to wear one before. Detective Scheetz wrote down the number of the Ford's license plate, which he subsequently found to have been stolen on April 8 in south St. Louis. After arriving at the shopping center, defendants and Riley decided it would be better to rob the Bank.

Riley drove the Ford to his residence and waited a few hours. The defendants then came by for Riley and they proceeded to the vicinity of the Bank, Riley parking the Ford in the same spot as that morning. Riley then entered the auto carrying the defendants and they proceeded to a bar where they stayed between a half-hour and an hour. Riley and the defendants then drove back to where the Ford was parked, and Hanger and Riley got into the Ford. Hanger drove the Ford to an alley close to the Bank and said that he would wait for Riley in the alley rather than on the street as previously planned.

Riley then walked about a block and one-half to the Bank, entered the Bank about 5:00 p.m. and robbed it by handing the teller, Mrs. Julie Chappell, a note and an accordian briefcase. Mrs. Chappell said the note stated in essence-- this is a robbery, give me all your money; I have a gun; don't push any buttons or I will kill you. After the briefcase was filled with money, Riley took it from Mrs. Chappell and seized the note from her hand placing it in the briefcase. Pictures of Riley were taken upon Mrs. Chappell's activating a hidden button. Of the approximately $1998 taken, $500 were in $20 bills the serial numbers of which had previously been recorded. Riley then met Hanger in the alley and jumped into the Ford station wagon's back seat where he removed his disguise clothing and began removing the moustache while Hanger drove. Hanger and Riley again met with Mixen and Meyer, abandoning the Ford station wagon. They then proceeded in Mixen's car to a bar where Meyer left in a cab with the proceeds from the robbery.

Mixen then gave Riley $5 and told him to go to the Jeffla Bar, where Riley waited until Mixen and Hanger pulled

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up to the bar and honked for Riley who joined the pair in proceeding to Mixen's apartment. The proceeds of the robbery were then split three ways, Riley, Mixen and Hanger each getting about $675. Each of the three gave Meyer about $20 or $25 for her participation.

After the division of the 'loot', Riley went home and while watching the evening news saw photos taken of the Bank robbery. Apparently Riley panicked and, after spending the night at home, rented a room at the Northwestern Hotel for a week where he 'holed up' and remained intoxicated. He returned to his home on April 14 and was arrested; $220 of the Bank's money was recovered from him. On April 15, the FBI in co-operation with the St. Louis police obtained a search warrant that was served on 1419-1421 North Park Place, the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Hanger and Mr. and Mrs. Meyer. On the second floor of the Hanger side of the premises, an FBI agent found $180 in $20 bills under the cover of a wall phone; five of the $20 bills had serial numbers corresponding with bills taken from the Chippewa Bank in the robbery of April 8. A St. Louis police officer in searching the Meyer residence found in a purse two $20 bills that were likewise matched to serial numbers of the money stolen in the Bank robbery.

Shortly after his arrest, Riley gave a statement to the FBI indicating that he was the sole participant in the robbery of the Bank. While in custody at the City jail, Riley signed a statement to the effect that Hanger had nothing to do with the robbery and that Riley had purchased Hanger's automobile with $300 of the proceeds from the robbery. 2 On May 4, Riley was sent to the United States Medical Center at Springfield, Missouri, to be examined by Government doctors to determine his mental condition. Dr. Wilinsky of the psychiatric staff in a report of May 26, 1966, indicated that Riley gave an account of the robbery similar to that which he had given the FBI. Dr. Wilinsky noted then that on June 3, Riley gave a different account of the robbery which was consistent with the testimony he subsequently gave at defendants' trial. Dr. Alderete of the psychiatric staff made a report dated July 19...

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