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United States v. Strayhorn

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

February 26, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
JANSON LAMARK STRAYHORN, Defendant - Appellant. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
JIMMY JAY STRAYHORN, JR., Defendant - Appellant

Argued: December 11, 2013.

Page 918

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 919

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, at Greensboro. (1:11-cr-00368-CCE-2; 1:11-cr-00368-CCE-1). Catherine C. Eagles, District Judge.

ARGUED:

James B. Craven, III, Durham, North Carolina, for Appellants.

Andrew Charles Cochran, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Greensboro, North Carolina, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Tony E. Rollman, Enka, North Carolina, for Appellant.

Jimmy Jay Strayhorn, Jr. Ripley Rand, United States Attorney, Graham T. Green, Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Greensboro, North Carolina, for Appellee.

Before GREGORY, DAVIS, and WYNN, Circuit Judges. Judge Wynn wrote the opinion, in which Judge Gregory and Judge Davis joined.

OPINION

Page 920

WYNN, Circuit Judge:

This appeal arises from the convictions of Janson Strayhorn and Jimmy Strayhorn for the robbery of P & S Coins and a second planned robbery of All American Coins.

Regarding Janson Strayhorn's appeal, we conclude that there was insufficient evidence to convict Janson Strayhorn of robbing P & S Coins. Thus, we hold that the district court erred by denying his motion for judgment of acquittal on the charges related to the P & S Coins robbery. The government did, however, present sufficient evidence to sustain the conspiracy and firearm convictions against Janson Strayhorn relating to the All American Coins robbery.

Regarding Jimmy Strayhorn's appeal, we remand his case for resentencing on the brandishing charge arising from the P & S Coins robbery because the district court failed to instruct the jurors that to convict Jimmy Strayhorn of that offense, they needed to find that he had brandished a gun.

I.

In August 2010, two men robbed P & S Coins, a store in north Davidson County, North Carolina. The robbers arrived in a cream-colored Cadillac. One of the robbers pulled a revolver on Samuel Sims, the store's owner, while the other robber bound Sims's hands with zip ties and his legs with duct tape. The robbers took coins from a safe and a Colt Peacemaker revolver from a display case and then left the store.

Starting on October 24, 2010, Jimmy Strayhorn, who had been detained in Guilford County Jail as a suspect for other crimes, placed several phone calls to his girlfriend, Thania Woodcock. The police listened to those calls and learned that Jimmy Strayhorn had asked his brother Janson Strayhorn to rob All American Coins and Collectibles in Butner, North Carolina to raise enough money for Jimmy Strayhorn to post his bond. These calls were forwarded to the Butner police and officers were dispatched to watch All American Coins. Butner police knew from the recorded phone calls that the robbers would likely be driving Woodcock's Cadillac.

On October 29, 2010, Captain Donald Slaughter, a Butner police officer, was patrolling the area around All American Coins in an unmarked police car when he noticed a white Cadillac driving slowly past the store. When the Cadillac neared the unmarked police car, the Cadillac's occupants " slumped down[,]" and the driver " place[d] his hand up over his eyes... to conceal his identity...." J.A. 146-47.

Slaughter followed the Cadillac, which sped up and made several turns. Believing that the Cadillac's driver was trying to elude him, Slaughter called in the license plate, confirmed that he was following the targeted Cadillac, and stopped and searched the car along with Officer Knutson, who had been called for back-up assistance. The officers discovered that Janson Strayhorn was the Cadillac's driver, Kenneth Jones ...


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