United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division
Leonard T. Strand, Chief Judge.
matter is before me on a motion (Doc. No. 140) for judgment
of acquittal and conditional motion for a new trial by
defendant Daniel Louis Jackson (Jackson). Plaintiff (the
Government) has filed a resistance (Doc. No. 141). I find
that oral argument is not necessary. See N.D. la. L.R. 7(c).
superseding indictment (Doc. No. 102) charged Jackson with
armed bank robbery and aiding and abetting armed bank robbery
in violation ofl8U.S.C. §§2113 (a), 2113(d), and 2
(Count 1); aiding and abetting the use, carrying and
brandishing of a firearm during a crime of violence in
violation ofl8U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1) and 2 (Count 2);
conspiracy to commit armed robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 371 (Count 3); conspiracy to use, carry and brandish a
firearm during a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 924(o) (Count 4). The superseding indictment also
included a forfeiture allegation concerning the alleged
firearm. Doc. No. 102. Trial began on October 10, 2017.
During trial, I reserved ruling on Jackson's oral motion
and renewed oral motion for judgment of acquittal pursuant to
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29. On October 12, 2017,
the jury returned a verdict (Doc. No. 133) finding Jackson
guilty on all four counts. Jackson filed his motion (Doc. No.
140) for judgment of acquittal and conditional motion for a
new trial on October 26, 2017.
Motion for Judgment of Acquittal
provides that "the court on the defendant's motion
must enter a judgment of acquittal of any offense for which
the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction."
Fed. R. Crim. P. 29(a). Such a motion is permitted after
trial, in which case the court may set aside the verdict and
enter a judgment of acquittal. See Fed. R. Crim. P.
29(c). Jury verdicts are not lightly overturned. See,
e.g., United States v. Peneaux, 432 F.3d 882, 890 (8th
Cir. 2005); United States v. Stroh, 176 F.3d 439,
440 (8th Cir. 1999). The Government, as the prevailing party,
is entitled to have the evidence viewed in the light most
favorable to it. See United States v. Peters, 462
F.3d 953, 957 (8th Cir. 2006). The court must uphold the
jury's verdict so long as a reasonable-minded jury could
have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Id. Moreover, courts "must uphold the
jury's verdict even where the evidence 'rationally
supports two conflicting hypotheses' of guilt and
innocence." Id. (quoting United States v.
Serrano-Lopez, 366 F.3d 628, 634 (8th Cir. 2004)).
Additionally, courts should not reconsider the credibility of
the witnesses, as that is a task for the jury. United
States v. Hayes, 391 F.3d 958, 961 (8th Cir. 2004).
Motion for New Trial
provides that "[u]pon the defendant's motion, the
court may vacate any judgment and grant a new trial if the
interest of justice so requires." Fed. R. Crim. P.
33(a). "The decision to grant or deny a motion for a new
trial based upon the weight of the evidence is within the
sound discretion of the trial court." United States
v. Knight, 800 F.3d 491, 504 (8th Cir. 2015) (internal
citations omitted). A district court may "weigh the
evidence, disbelieve witnesses, and grant a new trial even
where there is substantial evidence to sustain the
verdict." United States v. Campos, 306 F.3d
577, 579 (8th Cir. 2002) (quoting White v. Pence,
961 F.2d 776, 780 (8th Cir. 1992)). However, the court should
grant a new trial only if "the evidence weighs heavily
enough against the verdict that a miscarriage of justice may
have occurred." United States v. Rodriguez,
812F.2d414, 417 (8th Cir. 1987). "The standard for
granting a motion for new trial is more lenient than for a
judgment of acquittal; the court is allowed to vacate any
judgment if the interests of justice so require."
United States v. Dean, 810 F.3d 521, 532 (8th Cir.
2015) (internal citations). However, "[m]otions for new
trials based on the weight of the evidence are generally
disfavored." Campos, 306 F.3d at 579. District
courts "must exercise the Rule 33 authority
'sparingly and with caution.'" Id.
(quoting United States v. Lincoln, 630 F.2d 1313,
1319 (8th Cir. 1980)).
argues there was insufficient evidence for a jury to find him
guilty of the charges alleged in the superseding indictment.
He states that the evidence shows that someone
robbed the Citizens State Bank in Hopkinton, Iowa with Jason
Centeno, but that none of the witnesses were able to identify
Jackson as the second back robber. The fact that his vehicle
was in Hopkinton on October 21, the day of the robbery, and
his DNA was on the zip ties found in the bank is also
allegedly insufficient to pinpoint him as the second robber.
With regard to the charge of conspiracy to commit robbery, he
references his own testimony in which he stated he was not
willing to rob the bank or help plan the robbery because he
used to live in Hopkinton. He contends his association with
Centeno and visit to Wal-Mart with Centeno and Edgar Pauley
to purchase zip ties, stocking caps and pantyhose just days
before the robbery is not sufficient to establish conspiracy.
With regard to Count 2 (aiding and abetting the use, carrying
and brandishing of a firearm during a crime of violence) and
Count 4 (conspiracy to use, carry and brandish a firearm
during a crime of violence), Jackson acknowledges it is
undisputed that a firearm was obtained approximately one week
prior to the bank robbery, that he was present when the
firearm was obtained and that he handled the firearm.
However, he states that the firearm's purpose was to
protect Centeno from individuals in Muscatine and that he did
not know Centeno was going to take the firearm to the
Government's summary of the evidence tells a different
story. It references several Facebook messages in which
Jackson wrote he had obtained a .38 special revolver and was
going to rob a bank. He also sent videos of himself with the
revolver. On October 17, 2016, Jackson and Centeno traveled
to Hopkinton. Jackson waited in the vehicle while Centeno
went inside the Citizens State Bank and recorded the interior
with his cell phone. On October 20, 2017, video from Wal-Mart
shows Jackson, Centeno and Pauley in Wal-Mart purchasing
pantyhose, stocking caps and zip ties, among other items. On
the day of the robbery, video from a gas station in
Monticello, Iowa, shows Centeno in the passenger seat of
Jackson's vehicle. Moreover, the zip ties used by the
second robber to secure a bank employee's hands contained
Jackson's DNA. One of those zip ties had also been
dropped by the second robber during the course of the
robbery. The Government then points to exhibits suggesting
that Jackson, Centeno and Pauley traveled to Yonkers, New
York, where Centeno's mother lived. The revolver used in
the robbery was found there. Finally, the Government
references additional Facebook messages sent by Jackson after
the robbery suggesting that he had been a participant.
regard to Count 1 (armed bank robbery and aiding and abetting
armed bank robbery), the Government was required to prove the