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United States v. Buck

decided: November 3, 1986.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE,
v.
MARILYN BUCK, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Appeal from a judgment entered following a jury trial in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Robert L. Carter, Judge, convicting defendant, as a previously convicted felon, of transporting a firearm in interstate commerce in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g).

Mansfield, Kearse, and Winter, Circuit Judges.

Author: Kearse

KEARSE, Circuit Judge:

Defendant Marilyn Buck appeals from a judgment entered in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York after a jury trial before Robert L. Carter, Judge, convicting her, as a previously convicted felon, on one count of transporting a firearm and ammunition in interstate commerce in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) (1982). Buck was sentenced to five years' imprisonment, to be served consecutively to sentences previously imposed on her in connection with other crimes. On appeal, Buck contends that the evidence at trial was insufficient to establish that she had transported the weapon and ammunition, found in her possession at the time of her arrest, across a state line. We disagree and affirm the judgment of conviction.

I. BACKGROUND

Buck was arrested along with one Linda Sue Evans on May 11, 1985, in Dobbs Ferry, New York. At the time of her arrest Buck was carrying a fully loaded and operable.38 caliber revolver in her handbag. At trial, the government sought to prove Buck's interstate transportation of the weapon through (1) the testimony of agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York City Police Department Joint Terrorist Task Force recounting their surveillance of Buck during the twenty-four hours immediately preceding her arrest, and (2) a letter written by Buck following her arrest, describing her activities during the period preceding her arrest.

A. The Surveillance Testimony

Surveillance agents first sighted Buck, known to be a fugitive, in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 10, 1985, and followed her and Evans as they traveled by car through Delaware and New Jersey to an apartment in the Bronx, New York. After remaining there for approximately one hour, Buck and Evans left at about 6:00 p.m. and drove to a shopping center in Golden's Bridge, New York. Their route took them through a section of Connecticut.

At the shopping center Buck briefly visited a drug store and then returned to the car. Buck and Evans then drove circuitously around residential blocks, stopping occasionally at the side of the road. At approximately 9:00 p.m., the agents lost track of Buck and Evans between the Katonah, New York train station and Pleasantville, New York. The agents relocated the car, with Buck and Evans in it, in a McDonald's parking lot some 20-30 minutes later and followed them to a Friendly's lot across the street. At about 10:30, Buck and Evans left the Friendly's lot and resumed their circuitous driving, stopping once at a gas station where they spoke to the attendant. Near midnight they stopped briefly in a Grand Union supermarket parking lot in Dobbs Ferry, then continued to a nearby Mobil gas station. There, both exited the car and Buck went into the building while Evans talked to the attendant. Buck and Evans then drove to a side street by the Grand Union, parked the car, and, after removing a bag from the trunk, Evans went into the supermarket. When Evans came out she signaled Buck, who joined her at the entrance. Evans then made a call from a telephone booth, went into the supermarket again, returned and made another phone call. Buck was observed receiving two phone calls.

At about 1:00 a.m. on May 11, Buck and Evans drove into a parking lot near the Inn Town Motel in Ardsley, New York, and parked. They then escaped surveillance for approximately 1-1/2 hours until the agents discovered that they had registered at the motel shortly after parking. The agents thereafter watched the car and the motel.

At approximately 9:30 a.m. the following morning, Buck and Evans left the motel. They were followed to Dobbs Ferry and there were arrested. At the time of her arrest, Buck was carrying a handbag that the agents had seen in her possession throughout their surveillance; inside it was the revolver, wrapped in a towel bearing the legend "Inn Town Motel."

B. Buck's Letter

On the day after her arrest, Buck wrote an approximately 1000-word letter, later seized during a search incident to the arrest of one Alan Berkman, that recounted activities and perceptions of Buck and Evans from the time of their departure from the Bronx at 5:50 p.m. on May 10 until their arrest in Dobbs Ferry the next morning. The letter, bearing the heading "I Detailed sequence of events II Possible ways of how got to us III Traces" (emphasis in original), includes descriptions of events in particular time periods. For example, Buck described their arriving at "H" at 6:50; driving around the parking lot once to look for a car; observing particular vans and cars in the lot; driving over a bridge to the railroad station; passing other cars as they drove; returning to the parking lot to get film at a store; leaving the lot; returning again and parking at the far end of the lot; going to check out a brush area; noticing that certain cars were still where they had ...


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