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Taylor v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

October 25, 2019

QUANDARIOUS M. TAYLOR APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM FAYETTE CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE PAMELA R. GOODWINE, JUDGE ACTION NO. 17-CR-00328-002

          BRIEFS FOR APPELLANT: Erin Hoffman Yang Frankfort, Kentucky

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: Andy Beshear Attorney General of Kentucky Ken W. Riggs Assistant Attorney General Frankfort, Kentucky

          BEFORE: ACREE, COMBS, AND MAZE, JUDGES.

          OPINION

          MAZE, JUDGE

         Quandarious Taylor appeals from a judgment of conviction by the Fayette Circuit Court. He argues that he was entitled to a directed verdict on the charge of first-degree robbery and that the trial court erred by ordering him to pay restitution without conducting an evidentiary hearing. We find that there was sufficient evidence to submit the robbery charge to the jury, but also find that the trial court was required to hold an evidentiary hearing prior to imposing restitution. Hence, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for a restitution hearing.

         On March 28, 2017, a Fayette County grand jury returned indictments charging brothers Quandarious and Jevontaye Taylor on charges of first-degree robbery. At trial, the Commonwealth's primary witness was Chaka Hausley, who is Quandarious's and Jevontaye's aunt. Chaka testified that, on the night of the robbery, she and the victim, Myrna Curtis, got into an argument at Myrna's apartment. After the argument, Myrna gave Chaka a ride home. Ten to fifteen minutes after she returned to her apartment, Myrna heard a knock on her front door. Myrna opened the door and saw Chaka, who said she left her headphones in the apartment. Myrna left the screen door locked and went to retrieve the headphones from her bedroom.

         When Myrna opened the screen door to give the headphones to Chaka, two men rushed the door, and one put a gun to Myrna's forehead. The gunman told Myrna to shut up and backed her up against a wall. While Myrna was being held at gunpoint, the second man took Myrna's wallet with about $60 dollars in it, her cell phone, and a small Bluetooth speaker.

         The robbers then ran out of the apartment and left the scene. Chaka started to leave, too, but Myrna followed her and asked why Chaka had someone rob her. Chaka replied, "What was I supposed to do, protect you over somebody with a gun?" At that point Myrna went to a nearby friend's house and called the police. Chaka left the scene before the police arrived. Chaka later identified Quandarious and Jevontaye as the persons who robbed Myrna.

         Following a jury trial, Quandarious and Jevontaye were convicted of first-degree robbery. In accord with the jury's verdict, the trial court imposed a sentence of ten years' imprisonment and also ordered Quandarious and Jevontaye to pay restitution to Chaka in the amount of $300.[1] This appeal followed.

         Quandarious primarily argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion for a directed verdict. On appellate review, a trial court's denial of a motion for directed verdict should only be reversed "if under the evidence as a whole, it would be clearly unreasonable for a jury to find guilt[.]" Commonwealth v. Benham, 816 S.W.2d 186, 187 (Ky. 1991) (citing Commonwealth v. Sawhill, 660 S.W.2d. 3 (Ky. 1983)). In determining whether to grant a motion for directed verdict, the trial court must consider the evidence as a whole, presume the Commonwealth's proof is true, draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the Commonwealth, and leave questions of weight and credibility to the jury. Id. To sustain a motion for a directed verdict, the Commonwealth must produce less than a "mere scintilla of evidence." Id. at 188.

         Quandarious focuses on Myrna's inability to identify the robbers and the inconsistencies in Chaka's testimony. However, such matters go merely to the weight and credibility of the evidence, which is a matter for the jury to decide. Id. Considering the proof as a whole, there was more than a scintilla of evidence supporting the jury's finding that Quandarious was one of the two robbers. Therefore, the trial court did not err by denying his motion for a directed verdict.

         Quandarious next argues that the trial court erred by ordering him to pay $300 in restitution to Myrna. The Kentucky Supreme Court addressed this issue in Javontaye's appeal and the facts and reasoning are equally applicable to this appeal.

Taylor concedes this issue was not preserved, and has requested palpable error review in accordance with ...

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