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United States v. Stokes

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
631 F.3d 802 (2011)


Facts

The federal government (plaintiff) prosecuted Terence Stokes (defendant) for three bank robberies, two of which occurred at the same Trust One Bank branch office. The trial evidence established that on each of the three occasions, the robber wore a mask or sunglasses to conceal his identity. Police arrested Stokes after an accomplice identified him as the robber, and Stokes was tried two years later. Witnesses to each robbery testified that the robber was a dark-skinned male about six feet tall and weighing between 200 and 250 pounds. Sarah Britt, a teller present at both Trust One Bank robberies, testified that during the second robbery she could see the robber's face despite his concealing sunglasses. Prior to trial, from a police photographic lineup that omitted Stokes' photograph, Britt identified another man's photograph as resembling the robber. Now, at trial, Britt said she could tell from seeing Stokes in court that he was the man who committed the second robbery, even though Stokes was the only man in the courtroom who remotely matched the witnesses' descriptions of the robber. Britt also testified that, based on Stokes' speech in court, she could identify Stokes as the man whose voice she heard during both robberies, even though Britt last heard the robber's voice two years earlier. Britt testified that whoever committed the Trust One Bank robberies employed similar methods in each robbery. The jury found Stokes guilty of both Trust One Bank robberies. On appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Stokes argued that the evidence was insufficient to identify him as the Trust One Bank robber.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rogers, J.)

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