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State v. Coleman

Court of Appeals of Washington
231 P.3d 212 (2010)


Law-enforcement informant Sean McGrath arranged to buy cocaine and ecstasy from Sean Phillips. Undercover officers were to monitor the exchange from a nearby vehicle using a hidden wire. At the planned time, the officers saw a black vehicle pull up to McGrath’s car, drop off Phillips, and leave. After the officers heard the exchange of drugs over the wire, Phillips ran back toward the vehicle that had dropped him off. The officers pursued the vehicle and tried to stop it, but it swerved and sped away. The officers gave chase and found the vehicle parked with the doors open, at which time they observed Donshae Coleman (defendant) walking away from the vehicle. The officers arrested both Phillips and Coleman, and the State of Washington (plaintiff) charged them with first-degree robbery and first-degree robbery as an accomplice, respectively. Prior to trial, Phillips accepted a plea agreement that required him to testify against Coleman. At trial, Phillips testified that the day before the incident involving McGrath, Phillips told Coleman of his plan to rob McGrath and that Coleman then obtained a gun and agreed to pick Phillips up after the robbery. The trial judge instructed the jury that Coleman was guilty as an accomplice if, acting with knowledge that his conduct would promote or further a crime, Coleman aided or agreed to aid in planning or committing the offense. The court further instructed the jury that Coleman “acted with knowledge” if it was found he acted intentionally. A jury convicted Coleman of first-degree robbery as an accomplice, and he appealed, contending that the instruction was improper because it did not require proof of an overt act and conflated the requirement of an intentional act with the requirement that he acted with knowledge to further the crime.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Meyer, J.)

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