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United States v. Ruff

September 23, 1983

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
RUFF, ROBERT ANDRE, APPELLANT



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA (SCRANTON)

Author: Hunter

Before: GIBBONS, HUNTER, Circuit Judges and MANSMANN,*fn* District Judge

Opinion OF THE COURT

HUNTER, Circuit Judge:

1. The defendant, Robert Andre Ruff, was convicted by a jury of kidnapping in violation of 18 U.S.C.§ 1201(a) (1976), transportation of a stolen vehicle in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2312 (1976), and conspiracy to kidnap in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1201(c) (1976).*fn1 He now appeals this conviction, which we affirm.

2. On December 3, 1980 at approximately 1:30 p.m., Patsy Gaisior left her place of employment for lunch at the City Towers Apartments in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. At or near the City Towers Apartments the defendant and a companion, Frank Johnson ("Johnson"),*fn2 abducted Gaisior and stole her car.

3. The victim was next seen at the drive-up window of the Commonwealth National Bank in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania sometime between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. A bank teller testified that Gaisior withdrew $250.00, and that she was accompanied by two black males. The teller identified one of the men as Johnson, but could not positively identify the other as the defendant. The victim has not been seen or heard from since that time.

4. At approximately 7:00 p.m. that evening, Johnson and the defendant arrived, in Gaisior's car, at the Washington, D.C. home of a friend. This friend testified that they had with them a pistol belonging to Johnson and "some money." The defendant and Johnson then drove Gaisior's car to the apartment of Johnson's mother in Maryland. The defendant now carried the gun, along with the victim's checkbook. When Johnson's mother refused to forge Gaisior' s signature on the checks, the defendant threatened to do her what he had done to "that girl."

5. The defendant and Johnson then drove, again in Gaisior's car, to the Washington, D.C. home of Johnson's sister, Brenda.She testified that they had with them the victim's checkbook and credit cards, and that they asked her also to forge the checks and use the credit cards. She refused.*fn3

6. While at Brenda's home, the defendant told her roommate, Steve Gaston, that he had obtained the car by "telling a lady to move over a stoplight." The defendant admitted to the roommate that he "had killed the lady and thrown her body into the Anacostia River." Johnson confirmed this story by telling his sister -- in the defendant's presence -- that the defendant had used the gun to kill a white girl and that they had thrown her body into the Anacostia River. The defendant did not object to Johnson's statement or deny its truth.

7. Early the next morning, the defendant abandoned Johnson at Brenda's apartment, taking with him Johnson's gun and money, and the victim's car and personal effects. The defendant was arrested six days later while committing an armed robbery of a gas station in Philadelphia. At the time of his arrest the defendant had in his possession Johnson's gun, Patsy Gaisior's automobile registration card, and the keys to her car, apartment and mailbox.

8. In the mantime, Johnson had returned to Harrisburg. There he described to his brother in full detail how he and the defendant had abducted Gaisior, taken her car, killer her and thrown her body in the Anacostia River. Johnson recounted the same detailed story to his brother-in-law.

9. Following Johnson's arrest for cashing Gaisior's forged checks, a federal grand jury indicted the defendant and Johnson on three counts: kidnapping, interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle, and conspiracy to kidnap. Johnson and defendant were tried jointly. On May 7, 1982, each was found guilty on all three counts, and each was sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment for the kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap counts, and a five year term for the stolen vehicle count.The sentences are to run concurrently.

10. The defendant raises nine allegations of error by the district court.*fn4 The only allegation requiring detailed discussion is the Bruton ...


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