People v. Goss

Decision Date01 January 1994
Docket NumberNo. 10,No. 97021,97021,10
Citation521 N.W.2d 312,446 Mich. 587
PartiesPEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Darryl S. GOSS, Defendant-Appellee. Calendar,
CourtMichigan Supreme Court

Frank J. Kelley, Atty. Gen., Thomas L. Casey, Sol. Gen., John D. O'Hair, Pros. Atty., Timothy A. Baughman, Chief of Research Training and Appeals, Janet A. Napp, Asst. Pros. Atty., Detroit, for the People.

Sngela Palmieri, Garden City, for defendant.

OPINION AFTER REMAND

LEVIN, Justice.

Darryl Steven Goss was convicted of armed robbery 1 and first-degree felony murder. 2 This Court affirmed the armed-robbery conviction 3 but reversed the felony-murder conviction on the ground that the instructions to the jury omitted the intent requirement for aiding and abetting, and remanded the case to the Detroit Recorder's Court for a new trial on the felony-murder charge. 4

The question presented is whether Goss is barred by the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel from relitigating the issue whether he committed the armed robbery at a retrial for first-degree felony murder. We hold that he is not so barred, and that he may do so.

I

Before the new trial, the prosecutor moved for an order in limine barring relitigation of the underlying charge of armed robbery, and seeking an instruction of the jury that Goss had been found guilty of armed robbery and that the jury's responsibility was only to determine whether he was also guilty of aiding and abetting the murder that occurred during the commission of the armed robbery. 5

Following denial of the motion, the prosecutor was granted leave to appeal. The Court of Appeals affirmed, stating that it was persuaded that Goss' "constitutional right to a trial by jury overrides the affirmative use of collateral estoppel to establish facts pertaining to an essential element of an offense in a subsequent criminal prosecution...." 6 The Court said that, although all the elements of collateral estoppel were present, Goss' right to trial by jury entitled him "at retrial to have the new jury decide the facts and determine his guilt or innocence regarding all the elements of felony murder." 7

The Court of Appeals adopted the reasoning of the Supreme Court of New Jersey in State v. Ingenito, 87 N.J. 204, 216-217, 432 A.2d 912 (1981), and quoted the following statement of that court:

[C]ollateral estoppel, applied affirmatively against a defendant in a criminal prosecution, violates the right to trial by jury in that not only does it seriously hobble the jury in its quest for truth by removing significant facts from the deliberative process, but it constitutes a strong, perhaps irresistible, gravitational pull towards a guilty verdict, which is utterly inconsistent with the requirement that a jury remain free and untrammeled in its deliberations. Hence, the collateral estoppel doctrine, which serves to establish virtually conclusive evidence of a critical element of criminal guilt, cripples the jury in the discharge of its essential responsibilities contrary to the constitutional guarantees of the jury right in a criminal trial.

The Court "explicitly reject[ed] the use of a balancing test under the rubric of due process in making this determination." 8 The dissenting Court of Appeals judge relied on People v. Ford, 65 Cal.2d 41, 52 Cal.Rptr. 228, 416 P.2d 132 (1966), in which the California Supreme Court held that it was not error at a retrial for first-degree felony murder, following reversal because of instructional error, to instruct the jury that the defendant had been convicted of robbery and other offenses.

II

Goss was tried in March, 1987, on charges of first-degree felony murder, assault with intent to commit murder, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, and armed robbery.

The prosecutor's evidence tended to show that Goss, John Markopoulos, Nelson, Angelica Markopoulos, and Jerry Aikens drove from the Detroit home of Ronald Sherman to the Redford home of Ronald Bonadeo to commit a robbery. When the four arrived at Bonadeo's house, Goss began to work under the hood of the car, and Nelson entered the house. Nelson encountered Kristine Zambosco who was babysitting Bonadeo's young child. Nelson asked Zambosco where Bonadeo kept his gun, and he then forced Zambosco upstairs and sexually assaulted her.

As Nelson was sexually assaulting Zambosco, Goss saw Bonadeo and two of his employees, Michael and Jeffrey Goers, arrive at the house in Michael Goers' truck. The three men entered the house.

Upon entering the house, Bonadeo noticed that some of his possessions were out of place, and he did not see Zambosco. Bonadeo told the Goers brothers that they should all leave the house immediately.

Bonadeo testified that as they sought to leave Goss blocked the doorway. The prosecutor claimed that Goss had become concerned that the three men would interfere with the robbery, and followed them into the house. Goss held a knife in his hand and ordered the men to lie, face down, on the ground. Goss then ordered the men to give him their wallets and jewelry, and they complied.

Goss next called for "Jack," Nelson's nickname. Nelson came down the stairs and assumed control of the three men. Goss left the house. Nelson then shot the three men in the head. Michael Goers died, and Jeffrey Goers suffered serious head injury and the loss of an eye. Bonadeo suffered only minor injury.

After the shooting, Goss, Nelson, Aikens, and Markopoulos left in Bonadeo's pickup truck with Goss driving. They forced Zambosco to accompany them back to Sherman's home in Detroit. When they arrived at Sherman's home, according to Zambosco, Goss sexually assaulted her.

The police arrested Goss at Sherman's house during the night the crimes were committed. They found Goss hiding under a basement stairwell near the wallets that had been stolen from Bonadeo and the Goers brothers.

Goss gave a different account. He testified that he was running a quick errand for his mother when he encountered his neighbor, Sherman. Sherman asked if Goss would accompany Markopoulos and Nelson to pick up a check in Redford. Goss had performed some mechanical work on Markopoulos' automobile earlier in the week, and Sherman asked Goss to accompany Nelson and Markopoulos because the two were worried that the automobile might break down. Goss agreed to accompany Nelson and Markopoulos to Redford, and, as the three were leaving, Aikens joined them.

Goss testified that the automobile had not been running smoothly during the ride to Redford. When they arrived at Bonadeo's Redford home, Goss began to work under the hood of the automobile. According to Goss, Nelson and Aikens entered the house, and, after awhile, Aikens returned and asked Goss to pop the trunk of the automobile.

Goss testified that Bonadeo and the Goers brothers arrived while he, Aikens, and Markopoulos were outside in the vicinity of the automobile. He said that Aikens, not he, followed the three men into the house. Later, Aikens left the house, gave Goss the keys to Bonadeo's truck, and forced Zambosco into the truck. Aikens returned to the front door of the house. As Goss, Zambosco, and Markopoulos were waiting in the truck, they heard three gunshots. Nelson and Aikens then rejoined the three in the truck, and Goss drove the truck back to Sherman's house.

Goss denied knowing that Nelson, Aikens, and Markopoulos planned to commit a robbery at the Bonadeo house. He insisted that he did not enter the Bonadeo house, and he denied sexually assaulting Zambosco.

Goss' lawyer argued that the witnesses had misidentified Goss. He observed that, although Bonadeo claimed to be certain that Goss had forced him to the ground and robbed him, the clothes worn by Goss when he was arrested did not match the clothes that Bonadeo described his attacker as wearing. 9 Similarly, the lawyer argued that Zambosco's description of the clothes worn by the man who attacked her did not match the clothes worn by Goss. 10 Goss' lawyer also highlighted Zambosco's statement that "the only two people she saw in the house were Mr. Aikens and Mr. Nelson," and he noted that Goss' fingerprints were not found on any of the property taken from the house.

The jury found Goss guilty of felony murder, armed robbery, two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, and kidnapping. He was sentenced to nonparolable life in prison for felony-murder and concurrent forty- to eighty-year terms for the other convictions.

III

The rights of a person accused of a felony to trial by jury and to due process of law include the right to determination by the jury whether the prosecution has proven beyond a reasonable doubt every element of the charge. 11 The judge may not direct a verdict either in whole 12 or in part. 13

The prosecutor insists that these commands would not be violated by applying the doctrines of res judicata or collateral estoppel against Goss because a jury has already found beyond a reasonable doubt that Goss committed an armed robbery.

Whenever a defendant is charged with different crimes that have identical elements, the jury must make an independent evaluation of each element of each charge. A jury in a criminal case may reach different conclusions concerning an identical element of two different offenses. People v. Lewis, 415 Mich. 443, 330 N.W.2d 16 (1982).

The defendants in Lewis were charged with committing a felony and with possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Although the jury was required to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendants had committed a felony before it could convict them of felony-firearm, the jury acquitted the defendants of the underlying felonies, but convicted them of felony-firearm. This Court affirmed the defendants' convictions although the jury's verdicts were inconsistent. We explained that a jury may reach inconsistent verdicts as a result of...

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