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United States v. Myers

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
550 F.2d 1036 (5th Cir. 1977), cert denied, 439 U.S. 847 (1978)


Facts

On June 13, 1974, a bank branch was robbed by a single gunman, who disappeared shortly after the robbery. Larry Allen Myers (defendant) was charged with the crime, though he maintained that it was not him. A friend of Myers, Dennis Coffie, who looked like Myers, pled guilty to having been the gunman. At trial, the prosecution introduced evidence that Myers fled from FBI agents on two occasions: once in Florida and once in California. In Florida, Myers allegedly was not at home in the weeks following the robbery when FBI agents called (allegedly giving the reason that they wanted to speak to Coffie). Myers refused to speak to them. Three weeks after the robbery, Myers also asked his girlfriend to bring him clothes at a nearby shopping mall. When agents, who tracked her to the mall, saw him and ran toward him without identifying themselves as agents, Myers ran and disappeared. He left the state approximately three weeks after the robbery. In California, Myers and Coffie were riding a motorcycle when FBI agents decided to close in. The agents drove straight at them, they had a near collision and then Myers and Coffie pulled over. There was disputed testimony over whether Myers and Coffie moved away from the motorcycle after they pulled over when agents approached. Some testimony alleged they moved fifty feet away and other testimony alleged that they did not. Myers’ first trial ended in mistrial after a hung jury. A second jury found Myers guilty of the robbery. The district court sentenced Myers to ten years’ imprisonment. Myers appealed on the issue of whether the district court erred in instructing the jury on  evidence of flight, based on the events in Florida and California, because the evidence did not support a finding that he was fleeing.

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Holding and Reasoning (Clark, J.)

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