County Superior Court (P2/15-118AG) Associate Justice Robert
State: Virginia M. McGinn Department of Attorney General.
Defendant: Angela M. Yingling Office of the Public Defender.
Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and
MAUREEN MCKENNA GOLDBERG, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE
case came before the Supreme Court on October 3, 2017,
pursuant to an order directing the parties to appear and show
cause why the issues raised in this appeal should not be
summarily decided. The defendant, Douglas J. Huntley (Huntley
or defendant), appeals from a judgment of conviction entered
in the Superior Court, following a jury trial. The defendant
was convicted of possession of a controlled substance;
possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a
crime of violence; carrying a firearm without a license;
breaking and entering a dwelling without consent; and
conspiracy to commit the crime of breaking and entering. The
defendant assigns error to the decision of the trial justice
denying the defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal
on the conspiracy count and his refusal to grant a new trial
on the breaking-and-entering offense. After hearing the
arguments of counsel and examining the memoranda submitted by
the parties, we are of the opinion that good cause has not
been shown and that this case should be decided without
further briefing or argument. We affirm the judgment of the
Weston (Weston) was the second-floor tenant in a three-story
apartment building located at 38 Bergen Street in Providence,
Rhode Island. On April 23, 2014, at approximately 7:30 p.m.,
Weston heard a loud knock at the front entrance to the
apartment building. When Weston looked out her window, she saw
two men who were unknown to her. From the second floor Weston
asked if she could help; the men responded that they were
looking for the "gentleman on the first floor."
Weston informed the strangers that the first-floor
tenant-whom she identified at trial as "Troy Grant"
or "Troy Tunstall"-was not home. She then overheard
the men discuss "jimmying the lock" and watched as
they attempted to gain entrance by manipulating the lock of
the front door. After this attempt proved unsuccessful, the
men walked around to the back and peered into the first-floor
apartment windows. The men began talking to each other, and
Weston testified that "they mentioned what they were
going to do and then proceeded to do that."
Specifically, Weston overheard one of the men say "go
pop the front lock" as the other man thereafter pushed
open the window to the first-floor apartment; he entered
through the window, and Weston called 9-1-1 to report a
break-in. The man who entered through the window opened the
front door for the other man. Shortly thereafter, Weston saw
one man leave the apartment building.
police officers, Giuseppe Scarcello (Officer Scarcello) and
Michael Gammino (Officer Gammino) (collectively the
officers), were the first to respond. Officer Scarcello
testified that when he first arrived he saw the open window
on the first floor. After the officers entered the apartment
through the front door, Officer Gammino noted that the door
to the first- floor apartment was ajar. The apartment was
dark and had sparse furnishings. The officers made their
presence known, but received no response.
entering the kitchen, they observed a man's buttocks
protruding from beneath the kitchen table, with a firearm
next to him and a second firearm on the kitchen counter.
Officer Gammino testified that he asked the individual to
show his hands, but he neither moved nor responded. The
officers apprehended the suspect and located plastic bags
containing crack cocaine in the suspect's front jacket.
The man was identified as defendant.
defendant was charged in a ten-count criminal
information that proceeded to trial in October of
2015. After a five-day jury trial, defendant was convicted of
simple possession of a controlled substance; possession of a
firearm after having been convicted of a crime of violence;
carrying a firearm without a license; breaking and entering;
and conspiracy to commit breaking and entering. The defendant
was acquitted of the remaining charges. Thereafter, defendant
moved for a new trial and for a judgment of acquittal as to
count 9, breaking and entering, and count 10, conspiracy to
commit breaking and entering. On November 9, 2015,
defendant's post-trial motions were heard and denied by
the trial justice, and the trial justice sentenced defendant
to a total of twenty years with twelve years to serve and
eight years suspended with probation. The defendant timely
appealed to this Court.
this Court reviews motions for judgment of acquittal, it
applies the same standard as the trial justice."
State v. Enos, 21 A.3d 326, 329 (R.I. 2011) (citing
State v. Brown, 9 A.3d 1232, 1237 (R.I. 2010)).
"As such, we 'must view the evidence in the light
most favorable to the state, without weighing the evidence or
assessing the credibility of the witnesses, and draw
therefrom every reasonable inference consistent with
guilt.'" Id. (quoting State v.
Mercado, 635 A.2d 260, 263 (R.I. 1993)). "If the
totality of the evidence so viewed and the inferences so
drawn would justify a reasonable juror in finding a defendant