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State v. Jones

Supreme Court of Nebraska

April 21, 2017

State of Nebraska, appellee,
v.
Akeem R. Jones, appellant.

         1. Criminal Law: Convictions: Evidence: Appeal and Error. When reviewing a criminal conviction for sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the conviction, the relevant question for an appellate court is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

         2. Evidence: Appeal and Error. An appellate court does not resolve conflicts in the evidence, pass on the credibility of witnesses, determine the plausibility of explanations, or reweigh the evidence; such matters are for the finder of fact.

         Appeal from the District Court for Douglas County: Leigh Ann Retelsdorf, Judge. Affirmed.

          Jerry M. Hug, of Alan G. Stoler, PC, L.L.O., for appellant.

          Douglas J. Peterson, Attorney General, and Siobhan E. Duffy for appellee.

          Heavican, C.J., Wright, Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Kelch, and Funke, JJ.

          Stacy, J.

         Akeem R. Jones was convicted of first degree murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. This is his direct appeal. His sole assignment of error is that there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction. We affirm.

         [296 Neb. 495] FACTS

         On March 11, 2009, Gary Holmes was shot and killed inside BJ's, a convenience store near 42d Street and Ames Avenue in Omaha, Nebraska. The shooter was wearing a black, hooded sweatshirt and a ski mask. The shooter did not enter BJ's, but instead opened the front door to the store and fired 15 shots. Nine or ten of them hit Holmes, and several hit and severely injured another customer. The shooting occurred at approximately 2 p.m., and officers arrived at the scene almost immediately. The incident was recorded on surveillance tape and observed by several witnesses.

         DONTIA BULLARD

         After arriving at the scene, police made contact with Dontia Bullard. Bullard lived in an apartment he described as being "about 20 seconds away" from BJ's. Bullard, his girlfriend, and his infant son were getting out of a cab in front of the apartment when he saw two people in a red car parked in a nearby alley. A young man dressed in black got out of the car, cut through the backyard of Bullard's neighbor, and walked toward BJ's. Bullard worked at BJ's and recognized the man as a regular customer he knew as "Grimey." Other witnesses testified that Grimey was Jones' nickname.

         Bullard testified that by the time he got to his apartment door, he heard approximately 15 gunshots. He sent his girlfriend and child inside and stayed by the door. From his doorway, he saw Jones come back through the neighbor's yard and return to the red car, carrying a ski mask and a gun. Bullard admitted on cross-examination that he had contact with police within minutes of the shooting and was questioned within hours of the shooting, but did not immediately tell them about what he saw. A few days afterward, however, Bullard contacted police and gave a statement. He explained that initially, he did not want to be involved, but decided to come forward because Holmes ...


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