United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Virginia M. Kendall United States District Court Judge
October 8, 2013, a special grand jury indicted Defendant
DaJuan Key with a charge for one count of knowingly
transporting a minor in interstate commerce with the intent
that the minor engage in prostitution in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 2423(a). (Dkt. No. 16).
moved to suppress evidence acquired from warrantless searches
of his motel room and rental car on September 10, 2014.
(See Dkt. Nos. 47, 48). After holding a suppression
hearing, the Court denied Key's motion to suppress
evidence recovered from his rental car and granted his motion
to suppress evidence recovered from his motel room with
regards to his cellphones and a notebook, while admitting
prepaid credit cards, a computer tablet, and cash. (Dkt. No.
99). The Government later moved for the Court to reconsider
the suppression of Key's cellphone, while Key moved to
suppress his post-arrest statements. (Dkt. No. 104).
January 22, 2016, in the interest of justice, the Court
exercised its discretion and granted both parties'
requests to consider suppression issues that each failed to
raise. (Dkt. No. 117). The Court ordered a hearing on both
issues to be held on January 26, 2016. (Id.). After
carefully considering the evidence presented at the second
suppression hearing, the Court vacated its previous order
suppressing Key's cellphone and granted Key's motion
to suppress all of his post-arrest statements. (See
Dkt. No. 145).
a four-day trial, at which the post-arrest statement was not
used against him, a jury convicted Key on the sole count of
the Indictment. (See Dkt. No. 158). After the trial,
through counsel, Key filed a motion for acquittal under
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29(b) or, alternatively, a
new trial under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33(a),
arguing that the Court erred in a number of its decisions
regarding suppression, jury instructions, and other
evidentiary matters. (See Dkt. No. 167). On April
27, 2016, Key requested to proceed pro se. After
questioning Key and thoroughly advising him of his rights,
the Court found that he knowingly and voluntarily waived his
right to have an attorney and allowed him to proceed pro
se with the understanding that he would not be entitled
to a third appointed attorney. (Dkt. No. 181). Key filed pro
se a supplemental motion for judgment of acquittal (Dkt. No.
173) and a motion to reconsider the motion to suppress (Dkt.
No. 174). On October 21, 2016, the Court denied
Key's motion for acquittal or new trial filed by his
prior counsel (Dkt. No. 167), Key's pro se
supplemental motion for judgment of acquittal (Dkt. No. 173),
and Key's pro se motion to reconsider the motion
to suppress (Dkt. No. 174). (See Dkt. No. 220).
since filed three additional post-trial pro se
motions. On July 20, 2016, Key filed a motion for new trial
due to ineffective assistance of counsel and supplemental
motion for acquittal, arguing that defense counsel Heather
Winslow failed to strike false testimony by Dache Clayton and
that the Government failed to prove his actual knowledge of
April's prostitution beyond a reasonable doubt. 
That same day, the Court ordered any remaining post-trial
motions to be filed on or before August 29, 2016. (Dkt. No.
197). On August 29, 2016, Key filed a motion to reconsider
the motion to suppress and a motion for new trial, arguing
that newly discovered evidence in the police records calls
into question whether any of the cellphones entered into
evidence belonged to him.  On September 14, 2016 - after
the court-ordered deadline - Key filed a supplemental motion
for the motion to reconsider the motion to suppress.  On
September 16, 2016, the Court ordered that no further
post-trial motions would be accepted, but out of an abundance
of fairness to Key, said that it would consider the 9/14/2016
motion to reconsider the motion to suppress because the
motion had already been presented in another form. (Dkt. No.
Court now considers Key's Motion for a Judgment of
Acquittal or In the Alternative for New Trial , Motion
to Reconsider the Motion to Suppress and Motion for New Trial
, and Supplemental Motion for the Motion to Reconsider
the Motion to Suppress.  For the following reasons, all
three of these motions are denied.
Ample Evidence in the Record Supports the Jury Finding Key
Guilty Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
motion for judgment of acquittal challenges the sufficiency
of the evidence to sustain a conviction against a defendant.
See Fed. R. Crim. P. 29. A defendant faces “a
nearly insurmountable hurdle” in contending that the
jury had insufficient evidence to convict him. See
United States v. Miller, 782 F.3d 793, 797 (7th Cir.
2015) (citing United States v. Torres-Chavez, 744
F.3d 988, 993 (7th Cir. 2014)). Once convicted, the Court
reviews the evidence presented to the jury in the light most
favorable to the Government and makes all reasonable
inferences in the Government's favor. See United
States v. Cejas, 761 F.3d 717, 726 (7th Cir. 2014)
(citing United States v. Larkins, 83 F.3d
162, 165 (7th Cir. 1996)). The Court may overturn the
jury's guilty verdict “only if the record is devoid
of evidence from which a reasonable jury could find guilt
beyond a reasonable doubt.” United States v.
Jones, 713 F.3d 336, 340 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoting
United States v. Stevenson, 680 F.3d 854, 855-56
(7th Cir. 2012). The jury must weigh the evidence and assess
the witnesses' credibility, and courts do not
“second-guess the jury's assessment of the
evidence.” See United States v. Rollins, 544
F.3d 820, 835 (7th Cir. 2008).
convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a), which provides in
pertinent part that:
A person who knowingly transports an individual who has not
attained the age of 18 years in interstate . . . commerce . .
., with intent that the individual engage in prostitution, or
in any sexual activity for which any person can be charged
with a criminal offense, shall be fined under this title and
imprisoned not less than 10 years or for life.
18 U.S.C. § 2423(a). Key alleges that the Government
failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he acted
knowingly because the Government did not show that he had
“actual knowledge” of April engaging in sexual
activity for money.  Key argues that the record fails to
show that he and April talked about her engaging in sexual
activity for money. [Id.]
as this Court determined on Key's prior motion for
acquittal, the Government presented sufficient evidence for a
reasonable jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Key
possessed specific intent. (See Dkt. No. 220, at
3-8). The full discussion of the evidence has already been
presented in the prior order. A summary of that evidence
includes the testimony of the minor victim, April, and the
testimony of Dache Crayton. Both testified that Key drove
April from Wisconsin to Illinois. (Trial Tr. 156:21-24;
227:19-22). Crayton testified that she had been prostituted
by Key and that Key found girls for his prostitution ring
through backpage.com, a website used to advertise sex in
exchange for money according to April. (Trial Tr. 127:17-25;
128:1-13; 225:14-25). She also testified that Key contacted
her based on a backpage.com advertisement and that she sent
him a photo of her after he requested one. (Trial Tr.
also testified that, once in Illinois, Key told April that
Crayton “did the same thing [April] did” (i.e.,
posted advertisements on backpage.com to prostitute,
according to April). (Trial Tr. 141:12-14). Key concedes in
his motion that the record includes this fact.  April
further testified that she did not want to go down to
Illinois, but she stayed because she was in the middle of
nowhere and did not have enough money or contacts to leave.
(Trial Tr. 142:23-25; 143:1-8). After assessing the
credibility of April and Crayton, a reasonable jury could
weigh this evidence, along with the totality of the record,