An Alamance County man on trial for carjacking should bear responsibility for his plan to cry on the witness stand, a panel of judges for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals claimed in a ruling issued yesterday
out of Richmond, Va.
The three-member panel denied defendant Marvin Davis' appeal from a 2012 trial in U.S. federal court Greensboro, in which Davis was convicted on charges of carjacking and brandishing a firearm in an act of violence. Davis had argued there was insufficient evidence to support the carjacking conviction, and that the testimony of a jailhouse informant, who alleged that Davis hatched a plan to weep on the witness stand to garner sympathy from jurors, should have been prohibited.
During trial the victim, Addison Woods, testified that Davis and another man, Adam Bradley, approached him during a house party in Burlington. Woods claimed that Bradley struck him in the head with a pistol and grabbed the keys to his 1994 Honda Accord. Woods claimed that Davis fished through his pockets and took his wallet. Davis and Bradley then left, telling Woods they would return with his car later, Woods testified.
At 1:47 a.m. that night, a Burlington patrol officer saw the Honda Accord fail to stop at a stop sign. The Accord then led him on a chase until the driver jumped out of the Accord and ran. The Accord continued rolling and struck a Buick Rendezvous parked on the side of the road, rolled backwards, and struck the front bumper of the patrolman's car. Davis was apprehended .3 miles away.
During trial Davis claimed that he merely borrowed Woods' car. A former cellmate of Davis' at the Alamance County Jail testified that Davis told him that he'd planned the attack in order to conduct a drug deal, and then tried to bribe Woods with drugs in exchange for dropping the charges. According to the informant, Davis devised a plan to cry on the witness stand to elicit sympathy from the jurors.
In his appeal, Davis argued that the jailhouse informant's testimony about planning to cry wasn't relevant. The 4th Circuit judges, however, disagreed, stating in yesterday's opinion, "Davis’s plan to cry on the stand tends to prove his consciousness of guilt, and thus is relevant."