Potts v. State, 012220 AKCA, A-12608

Docket Nº:A-12608
Opinion Judge:HARBISON, JUDGE
Party Name:ROBERT EARL POTTS, Appellant, v. STATE OF ALASKA, Appellee.
Attorney:Alycia S. Cole, Denali Law Group, Wasilla, under contract with the Office of Public Advocacy, Anchorage, for the Appellant. RuthAnne B. Bergt, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal Appeals, Anchorage, and Jahna Lindemuth, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.
Judge Panel:Before: Allard, Chief Judge, and Wollenberg and Harbison, Judges.
Case Date:January 22, 2020
Court:Court of Appeals of Alaska
 
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ROBERT EARL POTTS, Appellant,

v.

STATE OF ALASKA, Appellee.

No. A-12608

Court of Appeals of Alaska

January 22, 2020

UNPUBLISHED See Alaska Appellate Rule 214(d)

Appeal from the Superior Court, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, Kevin M. Saxby, Judge Trial Court No. 3AN-15-01280 CR

Alycia S. Cole, Denali Law Group, Wasilla, under contract with the Office of Public Advocacy, Anchorage, for the Appellant.

RuthAnne B. Bergt, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal Appeals, Anchorage, and Jahna Lindemuth, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.

Before: Allard, Chief Judge, and Wollenberg and Harbison, Judges.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

HARBISON, JUDGE

Robert Earl Potts was charged, along with his co-defendant, Johnny Darnell Degrate II, with four counts of first-degree robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery.1 Both men were charged alternatively as a principal or an accomplice.2 A jury found Potts guilty of three counts of first-degree robbery, but acquitted him of the remaining robbery count and of conspiracy to commit robbery.3

The first robbery committed by Degrate and Potts, which was charged as Count II of the indictment, took place in the parking lot of an apartment complex. During that robbery, Degrate and Potts took money and a pizza at gunpoint from a Pizza Hut delivery driver. The other three robberies were committed approximately one month later, on three separate days over the course of the same week. They all took place in shopping center parking lots and involved the use of a gun and a purple PT Cruiser. During those robberies, Degrate and Potts took items such as purses and cell phones from shoppers who had just returned to their vehicles.

On appeal, Potts first argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion to sever his trial from Degrate's trial. Potts next argues that joinder of Count II with the other three counts was improper and prejudicial. Lastly, Potts argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion in limine seeking exclusion of evidence regarding an incident that occurred at the Dimond Center shortly before the three shopping center robberies. For the reasons we explain in this opinion, we reject Potts's claims and affirm his convictions.

The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Potts's motion to sever his trial from that of his co-defendant

Prior to trial, Potts's attorney filed a motion to sever, asking the superior court to try his case separately from that of his co-defendant, Degrate. Defense counsel argued that, under Bruton v. United States, Potts's case should be severed because Degrate gave a statement to the police that implicated Potts as the sole perpetrator of the robberies, and that this statement would be inadmissible against Potts unless Degrate testified at trial.4 Counsel also...

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