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United States v. Spight

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

March 6, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Jamillo Donte Spight, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DONOVAN W. FRANK United States District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the Court upon Defendant Jamillo Donte Spight's motion for a new trial pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33(b)(1). (Doc. No. 130.) The Defendant moved for a new trial based on the discovery of purportedly new evidence. The United States (“the Government”) opposed the Defendant's motion in all respects. (Doc. No. 131.) For the reasons outlined below, the Court denies Defendant's motion.

         BACKGROUND

         A grand jury indicted the Defendant for being an Armed Career Criminal in Possession of a Firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2), and 924(e) following his arrest for possession of a firearm at Johnny Baby's, a neighborhood bar in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Doc. No. 18.) The Defendant waived his right to a jury trial, and the case proceeded as a one-day trial before this Court on January 27, 2014.

         The Government called the following witnesses: Eric Wasson and Anika Davis, two security guards who worked at Johnny Baby's the night that the Defendant brought the gun to the bar; Jonathan Price, the owner of Johnny Baby's; Robert Bisson, the Saint Paul police officer who took the Defendant into custody and transported him to jail; and Martin Robert Siebenaler, a Special Agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (“ATF”).

         Wasson testified that he approached the Defendant, had a three- or four-minute conversation with him, after which the Defendant “mumbled something” and walked out of the bar. (Doc. No. 68, Finding of Fact ¶ 11.) Subsequently, the Defendant returned to the bar with a pistol in his hand. Seeing the gun, Wasson grabbed it. In the ensuing struggle, the gun discharged twice. (Doc. No. 68, Finding of Fact ¶ 12.)

         Surveillance video from Johnny Baby's confirmed Wasson's testimony. Indeed, Wasson's positive identification of the Defendant was consistent with all evidence in the case. Anika Davis, another security guard at Johnny Baby's also observed the Defendant with a gun wrapped in what she believed to be boxer shorts. (Doc. No. 68, Finding of Fact ¶ 14.) ATF Special Agent Martin Robert Siebenaler testified that the gun in question was a firearm as defined under 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3), that it was manufactured in Connecticut, and that the gun therefore traveled in interstate commerce before the Defendant possessed it. (Doc. No. 68, Finding of Fact ¶ 17.)

         The Court also concluded that, based upon the evidence at trial, the Defendant had five prior felonies as follows:

OFFENSE

DATE OF OFFENSE

DATE OF CONVICTION

JURISDICTION

Terroristic Threats

May 19, 2012

October 11, 2012

Ramsey County, Minnesota

Sale of Narcotics Third Degree

June 4, 2009

September 28, 2009

Ramsey County, Minnesota

Aggravated Robbery

March 2, 2002

June 27, 2002

Ramsey County, Minnesota

Sale of Narcotics Third Degree

October 25, 2001

February 19, 2002

Ramsey County, Minnesota

Auto Theft

October 17, 2001

February 19, 2002

Ramsey County, Minnesota

(See Doc. Nos. 18 & 68, Finding of Fact ¶ 18.)

         The parties stipulated that on or prior to September 21, 2013, the Defendant was prohibited by law from possessing a firearm because he had been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. (See Government's Trial Exhibit 35.) On January 6, 2014, the Court concluded that the Defendant was an armed career criminal in possession of a firearm and sentenced him to 212 months.

         As the Government observed, the Defendant complained at the time of his sentencing about: (1) his trial counsel's decision not to offer DNA evidence at trial;[1] and (2) his trial counsel's decision not to pursue gunshot residue testing. (Sentencing Tr. at 36-39.) Significantly, the Court, at that time, responded to the Defendant by stating that its verdict in the case would not have been different even with the disputed evidence. (Sentencing Tr. at 49-50.)

         The Defendant filed an appeal to the Eighth Circuit and raised the following issues: (1) sufficiency of the evidence; (2) whether this Court erred in admitting the testimony of an ATF interstate-nexus expert; (3) whether the Defendant's trial counsel was ineffective for making an evidentiary stipulation and allegedly not adequately investigating the case; and (4) whether the Government failed to disclose exculpatory evidence during discovery. See United States v. Spight, 817 F.3d 1099, 1100-01 (8th Cir. 2016). The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ...


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