Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Getaway driver convicted in robberies

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//February 19, 2021

Getaway driver convicted in robberies

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//February 19, 2021

Although a man convicted for his role as the getaway driver in the robberies of Rolex watches from two jewelry stores argued the government failed to prove he had knowledge that a firearm would be used, evidence showing he was involved in the planning and in close communication with the ringleader throughout the conspiracy, supported the verdict.


This case arises from a conspiracy to rob Rolex watches from two jewelry stores in South Carolina. The government alleged that Aquabeus Moore was a member of this conspiracy and participated in the commission of the robberies by aiding in their preparation and acting as the getaway driver. A jury convicted Moore of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, two counts of Hobbs Act robbery and two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.


Moore alleges that the government failed to provide evidence that he had any knowledge that a firearm would be used in the robberies, especially no “advanced knowledge” that a firearm would be used so as to convict him under an aiding and abetting theory. The court disagrees. The government presented extensive circumstantial evidence from which a jury could conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Moore had advance knowledge that one of his confederates would carry a gun, including that Moore was involved in the planning of the robberies and in close communication with the ringleader throughout the conspiracy.


Moore argues that his § 924(c) convictions are invalid because Hobbs Act robbery is not a crime of violence. This court’s decision in United States v. Mathis, 932 F.3d 242 (4th Cir. 2019), forecloses Moore’s argument. Moore’s next argument is that the application of his § 924(c) enhancement is unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. However, this court has repeatedly rejected Eighth Amendment challenges to lengthy sentences based on multiple § 924(c) convictions.

Moore also argues that his sentence should be vacated in light of the First Step Act’s recent amendment of § 924(c). However, this court has already decided that the benefit of the First Step Act does not apply to defendants like Moore.

Evidentiary rulings

Moore challenges the district court’s evidentiary ruling admitting the firearm seized from his waistband during his arrest. There was no abuse of discretion in the district court’s evidentiary ruling. The gun found on Moore at his arrest was probative of his role in the charged conduct, especially in light of his defense that he had no knowledge a gun would be used in the robberies.

Moore argues that the district court erred in admitting into evidence summaries of cell phone data compiled from phones tied to Moore and another co-conspirator. The charts and maps created by law enforcement accurately summarized the voluminous cell phone data. Indeed, Moore does not contest the admission of the cell phone records or other cell phone data summarized in the exhibits.

Rather, Moore claims that the charts and maps are misleading. He specifically points to the pinpoints on the map and the arrows used to signify the alleged direction of travel before and after the robberies. The record, however, shows that the law enforcement officer repeatedly noted at trial that the pinpoints were the locations of the cell towers that the phones had utilized and the arrows between the pinpoints showed the general direction the cell phones were travelling, which was corroborated by the times the cell towers were pinged. Furthermore, Moore’s counsel had the opportunity to, and did, cross-examine the law enforcement officer regarding the markings on the map and the techniques he used in formulating his opinions.

New trial

Several months after his conviction, Moore received a letter from the FBI concerning the testimony of DNA expert Heather LaSalle. LaSalle testified at Moore’s trial to the likelihood that the DNA obtained from the recovered vehicles came from Moore and his co-conspirators. While LaSalle correctly testified that Moore was a contributor to, or the source of, a DNA profile on swabs from inside the van 10 times during the course of trial, the letter identified eight slight deviations from the FBI’s recommended language. Given the overwhelming evidence of Moore’s guilt beyond the DNA evidence and the fact that the FBI has never recanted its overall position regarding the DNA results, the district court properly denied Moore’s motion for a new trial.


United States v. Moore, Appeal No. 17-4579, Feb. 3, 2021. 4th Cir. (Bell), from DSC at Charleston (Gergel). Sharnaisha Naki Richardson-Bax for Appellant. Sherri A. Lydon and Emily Evans Limehouse for Appellee. VLW 021-2-050. 14 pp.

Verdicts & Settlements

See All Verdicts & Settlements

Opinion Digests

See All Digests