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United States v. Grimes

June 12, 2006

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MARIO GRIMES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

Before this Court is the Government's notice of intent to use other acts evidence (Doc. 55), and supplemental notice of intent to use other acts evidence (Doc. 58). Defendant Mario Grimes has filed objections to both documents (See Docs. 59, 61).

A. Factual and Procedural Background

On February 23, 2006, a federal Grand Jury returned a nine-count Superseding Indictment against Grimes (See Doc. 37). Counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9 charge Grimes with threatening to assault and/or murder federal correctional officers with the intent to retaliate against those officers on account of the performance of their official duties, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 115(a)(1)(B). Counts 6 and 8 charge Grimes with forcibly assaulting federal correctional officers while the officers were engaged in their official duties, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111(a)(1). These incidents occurred between March 13, 2005, and November 12, 2005, while Grimes was an inmate at FCI-Greenville in Bond County for previously having been convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. On March 25, 2006, Grimes pled guilty to Counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9 (hereinafter "other charged offenses"). A jury trial on Counts 6 and 8 is currently set to begin June 26, 2006.

The Government now provides notice to this Court that it intends to introduce evidence of Grimes' other charged offenses in support of Counts 6 and 8, and requests that this Court make a pre-trial ruling on the admissibility of this evidence (See Doc. 55). In addition, the Government seeks a pre-trial ruling on the admissibility of evidence of prior threats and assaults allegedly committed by Grimes that were not charged in the instant matter (See Doc. 58).

In its original and supplemental notices, the Government has outlined in significant detail the evidence it anticipates presenting in relation to Grimes' "other charged offenses" and other prior bad acts (See Doc. 55, pp. 2-10; Doc. 58, pp. 1-3). Accordingly, this Court's own recitation of these facts is unnecessary for purposes of deciding the issues at hand. The Court will reference the specifics of Grimes' prior offenses/bad acts where necessary.

B. Analysis

Prior bad act evidence may be admitted either pursuant to FEDERAL RULE OF EVIDENCE 404(b), or where it is intricately related to the current charged crime or necessary to complete the story of the crime on trial. See United States v. Ramirez, 45 F.3d 1096, 1102 (7th Cir. 1995); United States v. Hargrove, 929 F.2d 316, 320 (7th Cir. 1991). In this matter, the Government asserts both theories in support of the admission of the prior acts evidence. The Court will consider each of these arguments in turn.

Whether Evidence of the Other Charged Offenses is "Intricately Related" to Counts Six and Eight

In support of the admission of evidence of Grimes' other charged offenses, the Government first asserts that those offenses are "intricately related" to Counts 6 and 8, and should therefore be admissible pursuant toSeventh Circuit law.

"Evidence of other acts which are 'intricately related to the facts of the case' is admissible without reference to Rule 404(b), provided that it passes the balancing test under Rule 403." United States v. Owens, 424 F.3d 649, 655 (7th Cir. 2005) citing Hargrove, 929 F.2d at 320. Such intricately related evidence includes information necessary to provide the jury with a complete story of the crime on trial,Ramirez, 45 F.3d at 1102; United States v. Roberts, 933 F.2d 517, 520 (7th Cir. 1991), to avoid a conceptual or chronological void, United States v. Lahey, 55 F.3d 1289, 1295-96 (7th Cir. 1995); United States v. Hattaway, 740 F.2d 1419, 1424-25 (7th Cir. 1984), or to explain the basis of relevant relationships between co-conspirators, United States v. Zarnes, 33 F.3d 1454, 1469 (7th Cir. 1994).

In this matter, the Government asserts that Grimes' other charged offenses are intricately related to Counts 6 and 8 because those offenses provide an explanation of Grimes' "motive" and "plan" for the assaults, provide the jury with "a complete story of the crimes on trial," and "prevent a chronological or conceptual gap in the story of the two assaults" (Doc. 55, p. 12). Notably, however, other than citing and describing Seventh Circuit cases the Government contends are analogous to the present matter, the Government presents little additional argument or details to support these legal conclusions.

In reviewing the facts and circumstances related to the other charged offenses, as well as Counts 6 and 8, this Court finds that only evidence relating to Count 7 is properly considered "intricately related" to either Count 6 or Count 8. The facts and circumstances of Counts 1 through 5 all happened on occasions wholly separate from those related to Count 6. No piece of evidence related to those five charges is necessary in order to "fill a conceptual or chronological void," or to provide the jury with a "complete story" of either Count 6 or 8.

As to Count 6, for instance, the facts immediately preceding the charged conduct adequately present to the jury a "complete story" regarding that count. As the Government has informed the Court, prior to allegedly attacking Officer Walters on August 17, 2005, Grimes apparently cursed at Walters, threatened him, and became incensed (See Doc. 55, p. 8). These facts are sufficient to "fill [any] conceptual void," and tell the jury a "complete story," from a legal perspective regarding Count 6. Accordingly, evidence ...


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