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Commonwealth v. Powell

742 N.E.2d 1061 (2001)

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Commonwealth v. Powell

Massachusetts Supreme Court

742 N.E.2d 1061 (2001)

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Facts

Walter Powell (defendant) entered a convenience store and demanded money from the cashier, Theresa Campbell. Powell told Campbell that he had a gun and would shoot her if she did not comply. As Powell threatened Campbell, he patted an object underneath his jacket. Campbell later testified that the object underneath Powell’s jacket appeared to be made of wood with two sticks protruding from the jacket. Powell took about $170 from the cash register and told Campbell to follow him out the front door. Campbell complied because she was afraid Powell might shoot her. After exiting the store, Powell had Campbell walk alongside him for about 10 minutes. Powell then told Campbell to turn around and run back to the store. Campbell reported the incident to the police. The police searched the area and found a wooden replica of a double-barrel shotgun near the store. The shotgun had two wooden dowels in place of the barrels, a wood stock, and a clothespin to replicate the hammer. Campbell subsequently identified the replica gun as belonging to Powell. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts (plaintiff) charged Powell with armed robbery. After a trial, the judge instructed the jury that a dangerous weapon may include a replica or a fake weapon if the victim reasonably believed that the object was capable of inflicting serious bodily injury or death. The jury convicted Powell, and he appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in instructing the jury that the wooden shotgun could be a dangerous weapon.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sosman, J.)

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