Appeal from Superior Court of Pierce County. Docket No: 258032100. Date filed: 01/25/95. Judge signing: Hon. Grant L. Anderson.
Authored by Karen G. Seinfeld. Concurring: Carroll C. Bridgewater, David H. Armstrong
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seinfeld
SEINFELD, C.J. -- Spartacus Williamson appeals his convictions for being a minor in possession of a firearm and for obstructing a public servant. He contends that the information charging him with obstruction failed to state the essential elements of the crime. He also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence as to both offenses. We affirm the possession charge but conclude that the information did not properly charge the obstruction offense. Thus, we reverse the obstruction conviction.
Tacoma Police Officer Pat Frantz responded to a radio call reporting a fight "involving [the occupants of] a yellow pickup and two black males with a handgun" in a shopping center parking lot. The dispatcher said that store security personnel had followed the two suspects out of the parking lot and that one suspect was wearing a long brown coat and the other was dressed in a blue shirt. Frantz saw two persons matching the description of the suspects near the shopping center. Williamson was one of the suspects.
Frantz followed the suspects in his patrol car. He saw Williamson walk about 50 yards, then crouch and disappear into a hedge near a "little driveway." It appeared to Frantz that Williamson had a "shiny metal object" in his hand. Minutes later, Frantz saw Williamson knocking on the front door of the house behind the hedge.
After police backup arrived, Frantz approached Williamson and searched him for a weapon. He did not find a weapon on Williamson's person, but in a search of the hedge where Williamson had first disappeared, police found a loaded, .38 caliber silver handgun.
Frantz read Williamson his Miranda *fn1 rights and asked him for his name. Williamson replied, "Christopher Columbus." Frantz testified that Williamson again stated "Christopher Columbus" when asked for his name at the police station. In order to determine Williamson's true identity, Frantz sent him to the identification department for a fingerprint check. It took about 30 to 45 minutes to complete this process and determine that "Christopher Columbus" was Spartacus Williamson.
The State charged Williamson with being a minor in possession of a firearm and with obstructing a public servant. The information described the obstruction count as follows:
And I, JOHN W. LADENBURG, Prosecuting Attorney aforesaid, do accuse the respondent of the additional crime of OBSTRUCTING A PUBLIC SERVANT, committed as follows:
That SPARTACUS B. WILLIAMSON, in Pierce County, Washington, on or about the 7th day of December, 1994, did unlawfully and knowingly, hinder, delay or obstruct Officer P. Frantz, a public servant in the discharge of his official powers and duties, contrary to RCW 9A.76.020(3), and against the peace and dignity of the State of Washington.
To prove this charge at trial, the State introduced evidence that Williamson, after his arrest, provided Frantz with a false name, thereby forcing Frantz to go through additional work to establish his identity.
The juvenile court found Williamson guilty as charged. In its findings of fact, the court stated:
Officer Frantz advised Williamson of his Miranda rights which Williamson acknowledged and waived. The officer then asked Williamson's name. Williamson responded "Christopher Columbus".
At the police station, Officer Frantz again asked Williamson his name . . . and [Williamson] again stated that he was "Christopher Columbus". An officer then took Williamson to the booking area where he was printed and photographed as a part of the booking process. Two officers then ran [Williamson's] prints through the computer to see if they could discover [Williamson's] true name.
He was identified as Spartacus Williamson. Officer Frantz testified that it took approximately one half hour to forty-five minutes ...