Riddick v. US

CourtCourt of Appeals of Columbia District
Citation806 A.2d 631
Docket Number No. 99-CF-300., No. 99-CF-150
PartiesWayne RIDDICK and Martin Teasley, Appellants, v. UNITED STATES, Appellee.
Decision Date12 September 2002

806 A.2d 631

Wayne RIDDICK and Martin Teasley, Appellants,

Nos. 99-CF-150, 99-CF-300.

District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

Argued January 22, 2002.

Decided September 12, 2002.

806 A.2d 633
Bradford P. Johnson, Washington, DC, appointed by the court, for appellant Wayne Riddick

G. Godwin Oyewole, Washington, DC, appointed by the court, for appellant Martin Teasley.

Bernard J. Delia, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Roscoe C. Howard, Jr., United States Attorney, and John R. Fisher, Elizabeth Trosman and Eileen F. Sheehan, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.

Before STEADMAN, RUIZ and GLICKMAN, Associate Judges.

806 A.2d 634
RUIZ, Associate Judge

Wayne Riddick and Martin Teasley appeal their jury convictions of assault with intent to kill while armed1 and aggravated assault while armed,2 arising from their involvement in the May 19, 1998, physical assault on Denice Davis. Both appellants claim that the trial court erred in denying their respective motions for judgment of acquittal based on the insufficiency of evidence presented at trial. Teasley further contends that his constitutional right to confront witnesses against him was violated when the trial court limited his defense counsel's cross-examination of two government witnesses and that the trial court committed reversible error in not instructing the jury on the definition of "serious bodily injury" as an element of aggravated assault. We affirm.


Denice Davis testified that on the evening of May 19, 1998, she was attacked by two men while on the back porch of the apartment where she lived in an abandoned building located at 1242 Meigs Place, N.E. The two men, whom she identified as appellant Wayne Riddick and an individual named Rob Lowrey, lived together with appellant Martin Teasley in an apartment next to hers. On the evening in question, Riddick and Lowrey interrupted Davis as she was packing some belongings and accused her of stealing personal items belonging to them. According to Davis, Lowrey said, "Let's throw this bitch over the bannister," and "I'm going to kill this bitch." He then hit Davis in the face and pushed her up against a wall, and both men began kicking and beating her as she tried to make her way out of the apartment.

The attack soon became more brutal as the men began using a stick to stab Davis in the head and hands. It was at this time that appellant Teasley appeared and, upon learning that it was Davis who was being attacked, joined in saying, "Let's kill this bitch." Sometime during the ensuing assault, Lowrey told Teasley to get a knife. Teasley left and returned with a butter knife, which he placed up against Davis' neck. Apparently upset at Teasley's choice of weapon, Lowrey threw the knife down complaining, "That ain't going to cut nothing," and went into his apartment. Meanwhile, Teasley and Riddick continued the assault on Davis. At one point, even though Teasley was holding her arms, Davis almost got away from the two men, but Riddick grabbed her, and Teasley started "stomping" on her. Lowrey then rejoined the attack, bringing something sharp which he used to "slice" Davis's neck. After that, Davis heard glass break and felt someone jabbing her on her head and back. She moaned in pain and screamed for help as loud as she could, crying out, "Help me, help me." The attack continued until Lowrey suddenly stood up and told the others to stop beating her. When Davis looked over the bannister, she saw that a police car had arrived.

Officer Aris Paredes testified that he and his partner, Officer Lopez, arrived on the 1200 block of Meigs Place, N.E., in response to a radio call while on routine patrol. After parking their patrol car in an alley directly behind a two-story building, the officers noticed a woman standing in the window of the building next door, pointing at the abandoned building at No. 1242. Officer Paredes then heard someone scream. Both officers immediately

806 A.2d 635
turned their radios down, pulled out their flashlights and weapons, and began walking up the inside stairs of the abandoned building which led to the second floor landing. As they walked up, the officers heard a female voice cry out for help and then two other distinct male voices. One of the voices said, "Kill the bitch," while the other, rougher voice said, "You're gonna die." When Officer Paredes got to the top of the stairs, he discovered a bloodied Davis, holding on to the ledge of the balcony as she cried out for help and repeatedly attempted to stand, but fell back down

Officer Paredes looked to the apartment to the right of the balcony (Davis's apartment) and heard the same voice as before repeat the command to "Kill the bitch." Then the officer heard the rough voice again, coming from near the door of the apartment, repeating the words "you're gonna die." At that time, Riddick stepped out of the apartment on the right and moved toward Davis as if to try to grab her by the hair. Officer Paredes raised his flashlight and gun, identified himself and ordered Riddick to stop. Riddick turned, looked at Officer Paredes and dropped a piece of glass that he was holding in his left hand. He then ran back into the apartment. Immediately after that, another man, later identified as Lowrey, emerged from the apartment on the left (the one occupied by the three men), cleaning his face with a piece of clothing. As soon as Officer Paredes turned the flashlight on the man, he ran back into the apartment.

Officer Paredes directed his flashlight back to Davis and saw her, covered in blood, stretching out her arms to him and pleading for help. When the officer asked who had attacked her, she answered, "Rob." The officer told Davis to go down the steps while he looked for the two men he had heard in the apartment on the right. As he entered that apartment, the officer discovered Teasley at the front door and ordered him to stop. Realizing that Teasley was not the same man he had seen drop the piece of glass on the landing, the officer continued to look farther into the apartment, where he found Riddick in a small room with his hands up against the wall.

Officer Paredes took Teasley, who appeared drunk, and Riddick, who seemed sober, into custody. After speaking with both men, he determined that it had been Riddick who stated, "You're gonna die," and Teasley who had said, "Kill the bitch." After both men were secured, Officer Paredes returned to Davis, getting a piece of clothing to place on her wounded neck, as "there was blood gushing out." At trial, the officer described Davis as being "bloody all over. Her hair looked like she had tomato paste over her head. That's how much blood she had. And her face was full of blood, blood was just coming out of her neck." Officer Paredes also described some blood as coming from "the back of her head."3

Neither appellant had suffered any wound or injury, yet each had a large amount of blood on his clothing and person.4

806 A.2d 636
Teasley had a large blood stain on his left pants leg, a small stain on his right pants leg and visible blood stains on his shoes. Riddick had blood stains on his shirt, pants, shoes and hands.


A. Cross-Examination of Witnesses

The more substantive claim on appeal is Teasley's contention that the trial court violated his rights under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution when it prevented his trial counsel from fully examining the victim about certain prior bad acts. We decide there was no error in the trial court's limitation of Davis's cross-examination due to the lack of a proffer sufficient to indicate how her prior acts of stealing from stores bore directly on her veracity as to the issues in this trial.5

A witness may be cross-examined on a prior bad act that has not resulted in a criminal conviction only where (1) the examiner has a factual predicate for the question, and (2) the bad act bears directly upon the veracity of the witness in respect to the issues involved in the trial.

Murphy v. Bonanno, 663 A.2d 505, 508-509 (D.C.1995) (quoting Portillo v. United States, 609 A.2d 687, 690-91 (D.C.1992)). Reviewing the proffer in this case, it is clear that Teasley's counsel established the threshold factual predicate for questioning Davis about shoplifting, as Davis admitted that, on at least one occasion, she had committed that act.6 See id. at 511 (describing

806 A.2d 637
the necessary predicate as a "fairly undemanding initial scrutiny"). In proposing to cross-examine Davis about her prior bad acts, however, Teasley was also required to show how the proposed line of questioning regarding Davis's expulsion from neighborhood stores for shoplifting bore directly on her veracity in respect to the issues involved in the trial.

We turn, therefore, to whether Davis's alleged penchant for shoplifting bore on her veracity as a witness relating to the issues in this trial.7 As in Murphy, we look to federal court decisions interpreting Federal Rule of Evidence 608(b) to determine whether a particular bad act is "probative of truthfulness or untruthfulness." 663 A.2d at 509 (citing Woodward & Lothrop v. Hillary, 598 A.2d 1142, 1150 (D.C. 1991)) (internal quotations omitted). In that case, we held that instances of falsifying financial information with a bank-creditor and fabricating personal injury claims to secure insurance payments were probative of truthfulness. See id. at 510 (citing United States v. Sullivan, 803 F.2d 87, 90-91 (3d Cir.1986); United States v. Reid, 634 F.2d 469, 473-74 (9th Cir.1980)). Similarly, in Woodward & Lothrop, we relied on federal court decisions holding that embezzlement was probative of truthfulness or untruthfulness in determining that the trial court had properly allowed counsel to inquire into whether the witness had been fired from a recent job because he had misappropriated company funds. 598 A.2d at...

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    ...witness in respect to the issues involved [in] the trial.” Jones v. United States, 27 A.3d 1130, 1150 (D.C.2011); Riddick v. United States, 806 A.2d 631, 637–8 (D.C.2002); Grayton v. United States, 745 A.2d 274, 280 (D.C.2000); Newman v. United States, 705 A.2d 246, 255 (D.C.1997). The requ......
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