Never underestimate the ingenuity of a defense attorney in trying to get his client off. An example is the case decided on appeal by the D.C. Court of Appeals, as reported in a recent issue of the Daily Washington Law Reporter.
The facts are clear: Two defendants broke into Metro's Stadium-Armory and Rhode Island Avenue train stations and looted Farecard machines. Arrested, they were tried and convicted by a D.C. Superior Court jury in 1983 of second-degree burglary.
Then came the appeal. The two defendants contended that a Metro station does not fall within any category of buildings listed in the District burglary law, which reads:
"Whoever shall, either in the night or in the daytime, break and enter, or enter without breaking, any dwelling, bank, store, warehouse, shop, stable or any other building or any apartment or room, whether at the time occupied or not, or any steamboat, canalboat, vessel or other watercraft, or railroad car or any yard where any lumber, coal or other goods or chattels are deposited . . . and carry away any contents . . . shall be guilty of burglary in the second degree."
The trial court found that a Metro station's Farecard machines fell within the definition of a store, so the burglars were guilty. The defense lawyer denied it and said the stations couldn't be considered "buildings," especially since the one at Stadium-Armory is underground.
The appeals court, in a decision written by Judge Julia Cooper Mack, said it was clear the defendants had used hatchets to break into the machines. It said that the Metro stations are, indeed, buildings, and that "there was ample evidence . . . that both defendants were guilty. . . .