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United States v. Macon

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

February 23, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
GARNDELL JEROME MACON, JR.,

          ORDER

          DAVID C. NORTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the court on defendant Garndell Jerome Macon, Jr.'s (“Macon”) motion in limine to exclude evidence of Macon's prior convictions relating to unlawful possession of firearms as “prior bad acts” under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b). The court denies Macon's motion in limine.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On October 10, 2017, Charleston Police Department officers Mallek and Newcomb were on routine patrol in the parking lot of the Palace Apartments at 1000 King Street in Charleston, South Carolina. The officers observed a number of individuals loitering in the parking lot and the odor of marijuana around a black Honda CRV (“Honda CRV”) located on the south side of the parking lot. The officers observed two individuals place a digital scale on the hood of the Honda CRV and quickly walk away. After searching around the Honda CRV, the officers found plastic baggy pieces, a digital scale, and multiple cigar wrappers. Officer Harkins, another officer in the Charleston Police Department, was then called to the scene. Harkins observed a black male with dreadlocks pick up a digital scale that had been on the hood of the Honda CRV, open the rear driver-side door, and remove a firearm. Officers Mallek and Newcomb then observed a black male matching the description provided to them by Officer Harkins running from the Honda CRV towards the front entrance of the apartment building, and entering a doorway on the south side of the first-floor hallway.

         Officers Mallek and Newcomb then entered the apartment building and waited outside of apartment 106, the apartment that the officers had seen the suspect run into. Lasheaka Nelson (“Nelson”), the tenant of apartment 106, opened the door to the apartment and informed the officers that her cousin Macon-a black male with dreadlocks who matched the description of the suspect-was inside the apartment and provided her verbal consent to the officers to enter the apartment. The officers detained Macon inside the apartment, and after some time, Charleston Police Department Sgt. LaFromboise entered the apartment and spoke with Nelson, who again provided consent to search the apartment. Nelson was then provided a “consent to search” form, which she signed.

         After Nelson signed the consent form and Macon had been detained in the living room, the officers went to the bedroom and lifted the mattress off the bed, finding a .45 caliber Glock 21 between the mattress and the box spring. The officers then arrested Macon, and during the resulting search of his person, found a plastic baggy of marijuana in Macon's right sock. The officers then went to the parking lot of the Palace Apartments and searched the Honda CRV. The officers found a .40 caliber Smith and Wesson XD handgun on the rear floorboard behind the driver's seat of the Honda CRV.

         Macon was indicted on multiple counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of U.S.C. Title 18 §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2), and 924(e). Before trial, Macon sought to exclude his prior convictions relating to unlawful possession of firearms under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b). On August 7, 2017, the court held a hearing on Macon's motion in limine. After the hearing, the court denied Macon's motion. This order supplements that previous ruling.

         II. STANDARD

         The purpose of a motion in limine is to obtain a preliminary ruling on the admissibility of a particular evidentiary matter. Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 40 n.2 (1984). A court will exclude evidence on a motion in limine only if the evidence is “clearly inadmissible for any purpose.” Hall v. Sterling Park Dist., 2012 WL 1050302, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 28, 2012).

         III. DISCUSSION

         The government intends to use Macon's prior convictions relating to unlawful possession of firearms as evidence. ECF No. 78. Namely, the government wishes to introduce: (1) a March 2004 arrest and conviction for unlawful carrying of a weapon, unlawful possession of a pistol in March 2004; (2) a November 2006 arrest and conviction for unlawful possession of a pistol; (3) a November 2011 arrest and conviction for unlawful possession of a pistol as a convicted felon. The government argues that this evidence is admissible to show Macon's intent, motive, knowledge, and absence of mistake or accident relating to his possession of firearms as charged in the indictment. The government further contends that these past convictions are especially salient given that Macon's theory of the case is that he was never in possession of the firearms on October 7, 2015, and that he is the victim of police misconduct and had no knowledge of either gun that was found. Macon objects to the introduction of this 404(b) evidence, arguing that evidence that he possessed a firearm outside the dates of the charged offense is inadmissible under Rule 404(b) because its only purpose is to show his propensity to possess a firearm. The court overrules Macon's objection and admits Macon's prior convictions.

         Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) provides:

Evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts is not admissible to prove the character of a person in order to show action in conformity therewith. It may, however, be admissible for other purposes, such as proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident[.]

Fed. R. Evid. 404. The rule generally provides for the admission of all evidence of other acts relevant to an issue in the trial, unless the evidence is introduced to prove criminal propensity or is unfairly prejudicial. See United States v. Segien, 114 F.3d 1014, 1022 (10th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. United States, 526 U.S. 227, 229 (1999). The other-bad-acts evidence is admissible under Rule 404(b) so long as it is (1) relevant to an issue other than character, (2) necessary to prove an element of ...


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