Where appellant was convicted of malicious wounding and firearm offenses, his argument that there was insufficient evidence to convict because the victim’s testimony was “inherently includible” is not well-taken.
After appellant Lane and his brother Quintaz argued about money, Lane shot Quintaz in the face and back, and shot Quintaz’s companion, Brown, in the arm. When the police arrived, Quintaz initially stated he did not know who shot him. Later in the hospital, he identified Lane as the shooter. “At trial, Quintaz explained that he was untruthful with Officer Eberhardt because he intended to ‘take it in [his] own hands.’”
When asked how he knew Lane was the shooter, he replied he knew because he saw Lane shoot him.
“Brown was generally uncooperative during his testimony, repeatedly stating that he did not want to testify and was not a ‘snitch.’
“Lane moved to strike all charges after the Commonwealth’s case-in-chief, arguing that there was reasonable doubt that Lane was the shooter. The trial court denied Lane’s motion.”
Lane was convicted of aggravated malicious wounding, malicious wounding and several firearm offenses. He appeals, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to convict.
Appellant “Lane contends that Quintaz’s testimony is inherently incredible because: (1) he initially told the police that he did not know who shot him, (2) he identified Lane as the shooter only after waking up from a coma, and (3) the medical testimony demonstrates a faulty memory.
“These considerations do not rise to the level of inherent incredibility. Quintaz provided an explanation as to why he initially lied to the police: he wanted to take matters ‘into [his] own hands.’ At the time Quintaz spoke to the police, he had just been shot and was losing a great deal of blood.
“Such circumstances can easily impair one’s decision-making, and we cannot say that Quintaz’s explanation is ‘“so contrary to human experience as to render it unworthy of belief.’
“Similarly, the medical evidence and the timing of Quintaz’s identification bear on Quintaz’s credibility, but the trial court was in a better position than this Court to consider those factors in assessing such credibility.
“Moreover, Quintaz’s testimony was corroborated in several important respects. Despite his evasiveness, Brown confirmed that Lane and Quintaz argued shortly before the shooting, undermining Lane’s asserted alibi that he was never at the scene.
“A police dispatch stated that a suspect with dreadlocks was seen leaving the scene with a gun, and Quintaz testified that Lane had dreadlocks. Quintaz testified that Lane owned a .45 caliber firearm, which matched the cartridges found at the scene. In light of all these factors, it was not manifest error for the trial court to credit Quintaz’s testimony.
“Lane next challenges his conviction of malicious wounding as to Brown, relying on Brown’s lack of identification. Lane frequently points to Quintaz being the only witness who identified Lane as the shooter.
“It is well-established, however, that a single witness, if believed, is sufficient to establish a defendant’s identity as the perpetrator. … Quintaz expressly testified that Lane shot him and Brown at the same time.
“Even though Brown did not identify a shooter, Quintaz’s testimony and the clear contemporaneity and close proximity of the shootings provided sufficient evidence that the trial court could conclude that Lane shot both victims.”
Lane v. Commonwealth, Record No. 0424-21-1, Aug. 23, 2022. CAV (Chaney) From the Circuit Court of The City of Norfolk (Jones). Regis N. Rice for appellant. Victoria Johnson, Jason S. Miyares for appellee. VLW 022-7-352, 9 pp.