Commonwealth v. R.R.
The Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers of Goldstein Mehta LLC continue to obtain outstanding results in the courtroom. Recently, a Philadelphia jury acquitted Attorney Goldstein’s client of all charges in a gunpoint Robbery case following a two-day trial.
Prosecutors charged R.R. with Conspiracy, Robbery, Theft, Receiving Stolen Property, and various Violations of the Uniform Firearms Act. Prosecutors alleged that R.R. and another gentleman followed the complainants home from a Burger King at around 2 in the morning and blocked the complainants from parking. The complainants claimed that the robbers eventually let them park, and they then got out of the car. The robbers got out also, and one of the robbers pulled a gun and pointed it at the complainants. The driver of the SUV, who was alleged to be R.R., then went through the male complainant’s pocket and the car. The person stole $700, a cell phone, and some of his paperwork. The robbers then got back into their SUV and drove off.
Police took statements from the complainants, and the complainants claimed that they remembered the numbers on the license plate of the SUV in which the robbers fled the scene. The complainants gave those numbers to the police along with the make and model of the SUV, and police then ran the plate numbers through the computer. They determined that R.R. had been stopped in a similar SUV with the same four numbers on the plate approximately two hours before the Robbery. Police detectives put R.R. in a photo array and showed that photo array to the complainants a few days later. The female complainant identified R.R. in the photo array as the driver of the SUV, but the male complainant could not identify anyone. Based on the identification of the one complainant, detectives arrested R.R. and charged him with gunpoint Robbery as a felony of the first degree.
R.R. quickly retained Attorney Goldstein to defend him. Mr. Goldstein moved for a pre-trial lineup at the preliminary hearing, and the Philadelphia Municipal Court judge granted the motion for the lineup. Both complainants were required to appear for the lineup. Again, the female complainant identified R.R. at the lineup as the driver, and the male complainant was not able to make an identification. However, when the preliminary hearing occurred, the female complainant admitted that she had been drinking heavily prior to the robbery. The male complainant was also again unable to identify R.R. as having anything to do with the Robbery. Nonetheless, the Municipal Court judge found that the female complainant’s shaky identification was sufficient to force R.R. to stand trial.
R.R. decided to have a jury trial, and Attorney Goldstein was successfully able to use cross examination to show that the complainants had simply picked out the wrong guy. First, Attorney Goldstein highlighted the fact that the female complainant was initially only 90% sure that the defendant was the right person, she had been drinking heavily all night, and she had not provided the license plate number to the police officer who first responded to the scene. Attorney Goldstein also highlighted the significant discrepancies in the description she gave of the driver of the vehicle and what R.R. looked like at the time.
Second, Attorney Goldstein cross examined the male complainant on the fact that he had never previously been able to identify R.R. as being involved in the Robbery. For the first time ever, however, the male complainant claimed that R.R. was the driver of the SUV despite never identifying him at the preliminary hearing, photo array, or pre-trial lineup. Attorney Goldstein was able to impeach him with his prior statements to show that he did not really know what the person who robbed him looked like.
Finally, Attorney Goldstein highlighted the poor job that the detective had done in preparing the photo array in that every other photo in the photo array was of a person who weighed significantly more or less than the defendant. Attorney Goldstein closed on a misidentification theory; the complainants believed they had picked the right guy, but they had made a mistake, and R.R. looked totally different from the person that they described to the police on the night of the Robbery. The fact that R.R. was stopped in a similar vehicle a few hours before simply did not prove that he was the robber.
After hearing all of the evidence, the jury deliberated for approximately two hours before acquitting R.R. of all charges. Although the complainants claimed that they were 100% sure that R.R. was the driver of the vehicle and that they would never forget his face, R.R. was found Not Guilty of all charges and quickly released from custody. Due to a prior record, R.R. would have been facing 10-20 years in jail or more if he had been convicted in this case.
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