County Superior Court No. 2015-370-C.A. (P2/14-1420A)
Associate Justice Luis M. Matos
State: Owen Murphy Department of Attorney General
Defendant: Megan F. Jackson Office of the Public Defender
Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Robinson, Flaherty, and
JUSTICE PAUL A. SUTTELL.
Court. A robbery on the streets of Providence led to a
thief's short-term possession of stolen goods but
long-term period of incarceration. The defendant, Keith J.
Pittman, appeals from his conviction by a jury of
second-degree robbery, for which he was given a twenty-year
sentence with sixteen years to serve at the Adult
Correctional Institutions (ACI) and four years suspended with
probation. This case came before the Supreme Court, sitting
at Woonsocket High School, pursuant to an order directing the
parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised in
this appeal should not be summarily decided. After
considering the parties' written and oral submissions and
reviewing the record, we conclude that cause has not been
shown and that this case may be decided without further
briefing or argument. For the reasons set forth in this
opinion, we affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.
January 17, 2013, after leaving work for the day, Ryan
Laughlin and his roommate, Kyle Nichols-Schmolze, left their
Chestnut Street office in downtown Providence and began
walking home. Laughlin testified that they left in the early
evening because it was "definitely * * * starting to get
dark out but not fully dark." Laughlin explained that he
and his roommate walked across the Point Street Bridge and
proceeded up Wickenden Street. According to Laughlin, he
"was carrying a messenger bag with a laptop; and
[Nichols-Schmolze] [also] had a backpack with his laptop * *
* [and] other work supplies." Laughlin testified that,
while walking "somewhere near * * * Pizza Pie-er"
on Wickenden Street, "two men stepped out from an
alleyway" and grabbed him.
continued to testify that "somebody" came from
behind, "grabbed ahold of [him] and grabbed ahold of
[his] bag and said, 'Give me your bag. I've got a
gun.'" He began "taking off [his] bag"
because he was "afraid" and did not "know
[what was] going to happen." Laughlin testified that
"the guy took [his] bag [from] over [his] head"
when Nichols-Schmolze, standing "a couple of steps"
away, said to the man, "You don't have a gun, "
to which the man repeated, "I have a gun." Laughlin
described the man who took the bag from him as "a black
guy" in his mid to late thirty's; he did not get as good a look at the
second man, however. Laughlin testified that, as the two men
ran off with his bag towards the Point Street Bridge,
Nichols-Schmolze gave chase closely behind them, with
Laughlin about twenty to thirty feet behind Nichols-Schmolze.
testimony at trial essentially corroborated Laughlin's
version of the incident. He described the two suspects,
however, as "a white male and a black male[, ]"
stating that "[t]he black male was the one threatening
that he had a gun" and "basically arresting
[Laughlin], trying to peel the messenger bag over his head
and pull it off."
continued to testify that, when the men started running, he
realized that it appeared "very unlikely" that they
had a firearm, and he started chasing after them. He said
that, "[a]fter [running] the first block, the white male
peeled off into a driveway[.]"Nichols-Schmolze continued to pursue the
man with the bag, who was "turning corners around the
block." After one of the corners, the man "turned
left down a driveway" and out of Nichols-Schmolze's
sight. Nichols-Schmolze testified that he then "slowly
walked and kept [his] distance from the corner" of the
house, where he "assumed" the man with the bag was
hiding. As he "rounded the corner" of the house, he
saw the man in a driveway "leaning up against the house
holding the bag, " near "an overhead light."
Nichols-Schmolze testified that he was ten feet from the man
with the bag, and could see his face clearly, in what
"could have been five seconds, [or] it could have been
to Nichols-Schmolze, the man then "threw the bag towards
[him] and it landed at [his] feet[, ]" and then the man
"started jogging out [of] the driveway and back towards
* * * where the original incident had happened."
Nichols-Schmolze followed the man, encountering Laughlin on
the way. Nichols-Schmolze said that he handed Laughlin the
bag and told him to ensure that his belongings were not
missing. Nichols-Schmolze testified that, after encountering
Laughlin, the black male was "trailing" him and
kept threatening that he still had a gun.
said he saw the man "get out a set of keys" and get
into a silver sedan. At trial, Nichols-Schmolze could not
recall the license plate number, but he testified that he
"screamed the license plate number out loud" and he
heard Laughlin, who was on the phone with 911 at the ...