Tags: Criminal law, Accomplice liability
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The case involves two appellants, Nakia A. Roy and Steve B. Ross, who were convicted of armed robbery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence, and carrying a pistol without a license. Ross was also convicted of obstruction of justice. The case originated from a failed attempt by law enforcement officers to purchase a handgun through a paid informant, resulting in a robbery. The court found that the evidence was insufficient to support Roy's convictions of armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence, but affirmed his conviction for carrying a pistol without a license and all of Ross's convictions. The appellants raised several issues, including instructional error and motion to sever offenses, which were addressed by the court. The judge initially limited the prosecution to one theory of aiding and abetting in an armed robbery case, but later considered a second theory. The judge questioned the reach of the second theory and ultimately ruled on its admissibility. Despite this, the judge denied the defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal and instructed the jury on both theories. The judge believes that the alternative doctrine of aiding and abetting, which the government is relying on in the case, should be examined again by the Court of Appeals.
The court found that there was enough evidence to establish that Steve Ross committed armed robbery and that Tony Roy participated in planning an illegal sale of a handgun to the victim, but there is no direct evidence that Roy planned the robbery or had any advance knowledge of it. The court rejected the "natural and probable consequences" theory and concluded that the evidence was insufficient to support Roy's conviction for armed robbery and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence. However, Roy's conviction for carrying a pistol without a license stands. In Ross' appeal, his motion to sever the obstruction of justice count against him from the remaining counts was denied.
The judge denied Ross' motion to separate the obstruction of justice charge from the armed robbery charge as they are properly joined under Rule 8(a) and 8(b). The judge may limit cross-examination if Ross chooses to testify only about the alleged obstruction of justice incident and not the armed robbery charge. The defendant's convictions for armed robbery and PFCV were overturned, but the CPWOL conviction and all of the co-defendant's convictions were upheld.
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