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United States v. Battle

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

May 16, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
DELVONN BATTLE, Defendant.

ORDER

LINDA R. READE, Chief District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

The matters before the court are the government's "Motion for Rule 104 Ruling Regarding Evidence of Prior Shooting" ("Motion for Pretrial Ruling") (docket no. 26) and Defendant Delvonn Battle's "Motion in Limine" (docket no. 27) (collectively, "Motions").

II. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On February 26, 2013, the government filed a one-count Indictment (docket no. 2) against Defendant. The Indictment charges that, on or about January 13, 2012, Defendant knowingly possessed a firearm after having been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. Such offense is a violation of 18 U.S.C. ยงยง 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2).

On April 30, 2013, the government filed the Motion for Pretrial Ruling. On May 6, 2013, Defendant filed the Motion in Limine. On May 8, 2013, Defendant filed a Resistance (docket no. 28) to the government's Motion for Pretrial Ruling. On that same date, the government filed a Resistance (docket no. 29) to Defendant's Motion in Limine. Also on May 8, 2013, the court held a final pretrial conference ("FPTC"), during which time it heard oral arguments on the Motion for Pretrial Ruling and the Motion in Limine. See May 8, 2013 Minute Entry (docket no. 31). The court finds that the Motions are fully submitted and ready for decision.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Government's Motion for Pretrial Ruling

The instant case arises out of a January 13, 2012 traffic stop in Waterloo, Iowa. The government alleges that there were three individuals in the vehicle, including Defendant. The government further alleges that, during a subsequent search of the vehicle, law enforcement officers discovered a firearm under the seat where Defendant was sitting.

In the Motion for Pretrial Ruling, the government requests that the court admit evidence that Defendant possessed the same firearm recovered during the January 13, 2012 traffic stop during an earlier incident in December 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa. The government contends that the proposed evidence will show that, on December 4, 2011, an individual, J.G., was shot in the back of the leg as he was walking back to a car from a gas station. The government alleges that the shell casings from the December 2011 shooting match the firearm law enforcement officers found during the January 13, 2012 traffic stop. The government further alleges that a witness will identify Defendant as the individual who shot J.G.

The government argues that evidence of the December 2011 shooting is "admissible as direct evidence of the crime charged." Brief in Support of Motion for Pretrial Ruling (docket no. 26-1) at 5. Alternatively, the government argues that the evidence is admissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b).

1. Direct evidence

The government first argues that evidence of the December 2011 shooting is admissible as direct evidence and, consequently, Rule 404(b) is not implicated. Specifically, the government contends that, because the December 2011 shooting involved the same firearm as the one alleged in the Indictment, evidence regarding the December 2011 shooting is directly relevant to the charged offense.

"Rule 404(b), which governs the admission into evidence of wrongful conduct other than the conduct at issue, applies only to extrinsic evidence and not to intrinsic evidence." United States v. Johnson, 463 F.3d 803, 808 (8th Cir. 2006) (quoting United States v. Swinton, 75 F.3d 374, 377 (8th Cir. 1996)) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also United States v. Carroll, 207 F.3d 465, 468 (8th Cir. 2000) (discussing intrinsic evidence). Evidence is intrinsic if it "tends logically to prove any element of the crime charged, " in which case it "is admissible as an integral part of the immediate context of the crime." Moore v. United States, 178 F.3d 994, 1000 (8th Cir. 1999) (quoting United States v. Bass, 794 F.2d 1305, 1312 (8th Cir. 1986)) (internal quotation marks omitted).

For example, in United States v. Adams, 604 F.3d 596 (8th Cir. 2010), law enforcement officers found a rifle during a search of the defendant's home. Id. at 598. The defendant was subsequently charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm "on or about March 14, 2008.'" Id. at 597. At trial, the district court allowed the defendant's roommate to testify that the defendant had possessed and discharged the rifle on previous occasions, including in the fall of 2007. Id. at 598. The district court held "that the evidence of prior possession was intrinsic to the charged offense." Id. at 599. In upholding the district court's decision, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals emphasized that the government could prove its case by establishing that the defendant constructively possessed the firearm. Id. Because the roommate's "testimony indicate[d] that the same individual was in sole, knowing possession of the same rifle in the same ...


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