Questions relating to the order of proof and permission for a party to reopen its case after resting are entrusted to the trial court's wide discretion. In determining whether that discretion was properly exercised, relevant factors to consider are whether evidence surprised the defendant, whether the defendant was given adequate opportunity to meet the proof, and whether the evidence was more detrimental to the defendant because of the order in which it was introduced.
On July 12, 1976, appellant, Debra Lynn Dossey, was indicted for the robbery of the Capitol Branch of the First National Bank in Little Rock, Arkansas. At trial the teller at the bank testified that she was approached by a young white female, who produced a pistol and demanded money. The teller complied with the demand and the robber fled. The teller described the robber but could not positively identify appellant as the robber. The teller however, testified that appellant "looks like" the robber. Other testimony at trial included that of Ann Louise Jagow. Jagow testified that she first met Dossey in Phoenix, Arizona, in March, 1976. She testified that she had a conversation with Dossey during which Dossey admitted having done robberies in Little Rock and Minnesota. Dossey told Jagow that she was wearing a wig and her tinted glasses during one bank robbery and that she was armed. The jury returned a verdict of guilty. Dossey sought reversal of her convictions for bank robbery on the grounds that the district court abused its discretion in allowing the government to reopen its case after it had rested and in denying defendant a continuance, that the district court erred by not immediately ruling upon defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal, and that the district court erred in admitting evidence of other crimes.
Did the district court err in convicting Dossey for the crime of armed bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C.S. § 2113(d)?
The appellate court affirmed Dossey's conviction. The court determined that the district court did not abuse its discretion in allowing the government to reopen its case, because the evidence did not surprise defendant, defendant was given adequate opportunity to meet the proof, and the evidence was not more detrimental to defendant because of the order in which it was introduced. The court also found that the district court properly deferred its decision on defendant's motion for acquittal, after it had decided to allow the government to reopen its case, until all the government's evidence was introduced. Further, the evidence of the other crimes evidence was admissible to prove identity and an appropriate limiting instruction was given.