Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Bullock

June 17, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
MARCEL BULLOCK AND DOLPHUS PRYOR, DEFENDANTS.



MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

On March 30, 2006, Defendants Dolphus Pryor ("Defendant Pryor" or "Pryor") and Marcel Bullock ("Defendant Bullock" or "Bullock") were charged in a one-count indictment with conspiring to obstruct commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a). Indictment (Dkt. No. 12). Following trial, the jury returned a guilty verdict as to both Defendants. Dkt. No. 80. Before the Court are Motions by both Defendants seeking a judgment of acquittal pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29(a), a mistrial, or a new trial pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33(a). Bullock Mot. (Dkt. No. 88); Pryor Mot. (Dkt. No. 87). For the reasons that follow, Defendants' Motions are denied.

I. BACKGROUND

On March 30, 2006, Defendants Pryor and Bullock were charged in a one-count indictment with conspiring to obstruct commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a). See Indictment. The Government brought the charges following its investigation of an alleged robbery of a home in Troy, New York in the fall of 2001. See Dkt. No. 1. The Government brought charges against Defendants due to their alleged robbery of the house of Ed "Radiator" Hauerstein at 312 Second Street in Troy. See id.

The Government's evidence included oral and written statements allegedly made by the Defendants to law enforcement. On March 13, 2005, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Charles Kessler ("Special Agent Kessler" or "Kessler") and former Troy Police Department Detective Sergeant John Riegert ("Detective Sergeant Riegert" or "Riegert") approached Defendant Pryor at his home in Watervliet, New York. Suppression Hr'g Mins. at 6 (Dkt. No. 50). On March 16, 2005, Special Agent Kessler and Detective Sergeant Riegert similarly approached Defendant Bullock at his home in Rhode Island. Id. at 27. On both occasions, Special Agent Kessler and Detective Sergeant Riegert asked each Defendant to accompany them to a law enforcement building to discuss any information that each Defendant might have regarding a double homicide in Troy, New York. Dkt. No. 55. at 1-2. Each Defendant agreed to do so. Id. Prior to their respective questioning, each Defendant signed a form waiving his rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). Id. at 2-3. During the course of the interviews, each Defendant allegedly made oral statements concerning his involvement in a robbery, and those statements were also memorialized in written form. Dkt. No. 35, Attach. 1; Dkt. No. 31, Attach. 2. Police conducted a follow-up interview with Pryor at his home on June 2, 2005. Suppression Hr'g Mins. at 111. Police did not administer Miranda rights prior to this second interview. Dkt. No. 55. at 2.

Both Defendants moved to suppress their oral and written statements, on the grounds that the statements were not given voluntarily pursuant to Miranda.*fn1 Motions (Dkt. Nos. 31, 32). On April 9 and 16, 2008, the Court held a suppression hearing. On November 11, 2008, the Court issued an Order denying Defendants' Motions. Order (Dkt. No. 56). The Court concluded that both Defendants validly waived their Miranda rights regarding the March 2005 statements given to law enforcement. Id. at 2-6. The Court also concluded that there was no evidence that Defendant Pryor was in custody for Miranda purposes during his June 2, 2005 follow-up interview with the police. Id. at 6-7.

Following the selection of a jury on March 30, 2009, the Court conducted a jury trial which began on March 31, 2009 and concluded on April 3, 2009. At the close of the Government's case on April 1, 2009, Defendants moved for a judgment of acquittal pursuant to Rule 29. The Court reserved decision on the Motion. During an in camera conference on the morning of April 3, 2009, Defendants moved for a mistrial, on the grounds that each Defendant's statement implicated the other yet neither Defendant testified, in violation of Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123 (1968). The Court reserved decision on that Motion as well. The jury returned a guilty verdict as to both Defendants. Defendants filed the pending Motions on May 1, 2009. Dkt. Nos. 87, 88. The Government submitted a Response on May 19, 2009. Dkt. No. 91.

II. MOTION FOR ACQUITTAL PURSUANT TO RULE 29

A. Standard of Review

Rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 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). "[A] district court can enter a judgment of acquittal on the grounds of insufficient evidence only if, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution and drawing all reasonable inferences in the government's favor, [the court] concludes no rational trier of fact could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." United States v. Reyes, 302 F.3d 48, 52 (2d Cir. 2002) (citing Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 318-19 (1979)). A court "may not substitute [its] own determinations of credibility or relative weight of the evidence for that of the jury." United States v. Autuori, 212 F.3d 105, 114 (2d Cir. 2000). A court ruling on a Rule 29 motion must "consider the evidence in its totality, not in isolation, and the government need not negate every theory of innocence" offered by the defendant. Autuori, 212 F.3d at 114 (citing United States v. Rosenthal, 9 F.3d 1016, 1024 (2d Cir. 1993)).

B. Discussion

The indictment charged each Defendant with interference with commerce by robbery or attempted robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a). To convict each Defendant, the Government was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements: (1) that the defendant either obtained or took, or attempted to obtain or take, the property of another; (2) that the defendant took or attempted to take the property against the victim's will, by actual or threatened force, violence, or fear of injury, whether immediate or in the future; (3) that such actions actually or potentially, in any way or degree, obstructed, delayed or affected interstate commerce; and (4) the defendant acted unlawfully, willfully, and knowingly.

Defendants contend that the evidence adduced at trial was insufficient to sustain a conviction. Defendants argue that various inconsistencies in the witness testimony and inconsistences in the Defendants' statements require a judgment of acquittal. Such alleged inconsistencies include the number of individuals involved in the robbery and the items taken by the perpetrators of the robbery.

At trial, the Government introduced each Defendant's written statement admitting to robbing a house in south Troy. The Government called as witnesses Special Agent Kessler and Detective Sergeant Riegert. Kessler and Riegert had investigated the case and were present when Defendants gave their oral and written statements. Kessler and Riegert testified extensively about the circumstances surrounding Defendants' conversations with law enforcement and the statements given by each Defendant concerning the robbery.

The Government also called four witnesses who testified to being present at a robbery at Hauerstein's home on Second Street in Troy in the fall of 2001--Hauerstein himself, Judy Krug ("Krug") (Hauerstein's then live-in girlfriend), Mike Zilligitt, and Dave Mamone. All four witnesses testified that the house was a "crack house" where Hauerstein and Krug sold crack cocaine. All four also testified that James "Finney" Smith and Ray McGrath were also present during the robbery. Krug and Hauerstein both testified that the robbery occurred a short time before the police executed a search warrant on the house. They both recalled that the warrant was executed in December of 2001, and the Government also provided evidence that the Troy Police Department executed a search warrant on the address on December 5, 2001. Hauerstein, Zilligitt and Mamone all testified that they had only been robbed one time in their lives--at Hauerstein's house in Troy. Krug testified that she had been the victim of two robberies, including ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.