August 9, 2011

Colorado Court of Appeals criminal law decision 7-21-11 People v. Gregg

People v. Gregg            Consolidation / Aggravated Robbery / Sufficiency of the Evidence
Facts: A jury convicted Mr. Gregg of three counts of aggravated robbery. The robberies allegedly occurred over a few months. The prosecution moved to consolidate the three cases. The trial court granted the motion. During the trial the evidence showed on the 2nd and 3rd robberies that the assailant passed a note threatening to kill the teller. The assailant did not possess or pretend to possess a gun, knife or bomb. Instead, the assailant simply kept a hand in his pocket during each episode.
Issue: Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it granted the prosecution’s motion to consolidate the cases?
Held: No.
Reasoning: Colorado Criminal Procedure Rule 13 and 14 allow for joinder and severance. However, prior to granting a motion to join, “the trial court was required to first determine whether the evidence of the aggravated robberies would be admissible in separate trials.” The Court of Appeals then made its own findings: the robberies occurred within months of each other, each involved death threats, in each the assailant passed a handwritten folded note threatening the teller and demanding money. Based upon these findings, the CofA held that the evidence of each robbery would be admissible in the separate cases, and thus, the trial court did not err in joining the cases. The CofA rejected defense arguments that a) the trial court committed reversible error in not making specific factual findings in support of its order to join the cases, and b) that the evidence of guilt on the 2nd robbery tainted the other two robberies because the evidence on the 2nd robbery was much stronger.
Issue: Whether the evidence was sufficient to support aggravated robbery?
Held: Yes.
Reasoning: The Court of Appeals reasoned, “Both tellers testified that after reading defendant's notes, they believed that their lives were in danger. The teller in the second robbery testified that defendant had his right hand in his pocket when he said, ‘I will shoot you.’ The teller in the third robbery testified that defendant approached the counter with both hands in his pockets and kept his left hand in his pocket during the robbery.”

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