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12/22/72 United States of America, v. James Glenn

December 22, 1972






Leventhal, Robinson and Robb, Circuit Judges. Spottswood W. Robinson, III, Circuit Judge, dissenting.


The appellee Glenn was indicted for the murder of one Juanita Johnson by stabbing her with a knife. Before trial he moved to suppress a statement made by Juanita Johnson minutes after she received the fatal wound and within an hour of her death. After a hearing the District Court granted the motion to suppress. The United States appeals, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3731 (1970) and 23 D.C.Code § 104(a)(1) (Supplement V, 1972). We reverse.

The record establishes without contradiction that Glenn and Juanita Johnson lived together in an apartment at 3407 Sherman Avenue, N.W., in Washington, D.C. Between nine and ten o'clock on the morning of the homicide, August 26, 1970, a neighbor heard them "arguing" and heard Glenn tell Juanita Johnson to "get out". Then they "quieted down" and both left the apartment. Juanita Johnson returned at about one o'clock in the afternoon and around four o'clock the argument resumed. In a loud voice Glenn again told Juanita Johnson to "get out, get out" and Mrs. Johnson said "Glenn, why don't you leave me alone?". Glenn and Mrs. Johnson then "ran down the hall" and the neighbor heard the back door slam.

At about 4:20 P.M. on August 26, Officer Knox of No. 10 Precinct was at the stationhouse when two citizens came in and told him that a woman on the sidewalk outside seemed to be in need of help. He went out and saw Juanita Johnson approaching the precinct steps from the sidewalk. She had a blood stain on the left front of her dress about the breast. It was stipulated by the parties at the hearing that the officer would testify that

. . . I met her at the bottom of the steps and assisted her up the steps by placing my right arm around her back and shoulders and steadying her with my left hand. As I helped her up the steps and into the precinct she stated "Help me. Help me.". I asked her, "What happened?" and she replied, "He did it". By this time we were inside and as she stated "He did it", and she pulled away from me and lunged toward the counter where Officer Buck Jackson was working. I heard her repeat to him: "Help me. Help me. He did it". I then heard Officer Jackson ask her, "Who did it?" and I heard her reply, "James . . .". I heard her conversation with Officer Jackson as I was making my way to the back of the precinct to wash the blood from my right shirt sleeve which I had picked up from Juanita Johnson's wound in her back.

The stipulated testimony of Officer Jackson, who was on duty at the counter at the 10th Precinct, was that he saw Juanita Johnson enter the precinct, assisted by Officer Knox and that

. . . As she approached the counter where I was working I observed a small blood stain on the front right side of her chest and also an approximately one-inch cut in her dress in the area of the blood. As she approached she appeared as though she might fall but instead she sort of lunged the several steps necessary to traverse the five foot distance to the counter. She leaned up against the counter and grasped my wrist stating as she came, "Please help me. Please help me. He did it." I responded: "Who is 'he' and what did he do?" She replied: "James . . .". I though [sic] at first she said, "James Lynn" but I was only certain about the "James". I was unable to clearly make out the last name so I said "who"? She replied: "James Glenn". I then asked: "Where does he live?" and she replied "3407 Sherman". Then I asked: "What did he do to you?" and she replied, "I don't know because he got me in my back." As she stated this she gestured toward her back and then I noticed that she had blood coming from her back also. There was not, however, enough blood from her front or back to drip onto the floor or elsewhere.

When Juanita Johnson first attempted to tell me the name she gasped as she stated the last name and that is why I was unable to clearly understand her. She was repeatedly gasping for breath and appeared as though she was trying to scream but could not get enough breath.

Juanita Johnson remained at the counter for approximately 20 to 30 seconds, during which time the above conversation took place. Then I and Officer Knox helped her to a chair. Sitting in the chair she periodically moaned or groaned as though she were in pain. After sitting there for about one minute she began to slump forward. After about four minutes she had slumped so much I feared she would fall onto the floor so I propped her back up. I believe she was still semi-conscious because she continued to groan.

The testimony of Officer Kalinofsky, Desk Sergeant at No. 10 Precinct, was that he saw Juanita Johnson "lunge toward" Officer Jackson and then talk to him, but Kalinofsky did not hear the conversation. He stated that Mrs. Johnson was excited, appeared to be looking for help, and was gasping for breath. He noticed "a small amount of blood on her left breast". After she was helped to a chair he saw her "go limp and lean forward in her chair" and he then called for an ambulance. The ambulance took Mrs. Johnson to the hospital where she was pronounced dead at 5:14 P.M.

A person walking from the bedroom at 3407 Sherman Avenue to the counter at No. 10 Precinct would travel no more than 502 feet.

Dr. William James Brownlee, Deputy Medical Examiner for the District of Columbia, who performed an autopsy on Mrs. Johnson, testified that she had two significant wounds, one in front and one in the back, both involving the chest. The stab wound in the back produced major bleeding into the right chest from the intercostal artery and vein, causing her lungs to collapse and her heart to shift. The doctor concluded that Mrs. Johnson was in pain from her wounds and knew that she was very seriously injured, but he ...

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