May 22, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Central
District of Illinois. No. 2:15-cr-20051-CSB-EIL-l - Colin S.
Flaum, Easterbrook, and Sykes, Circuit Judges.
Parkhurst was convicted at trial of attempting to entice a
minor to engage in sexual activity and was sentenced to one
hundred thirty-two months' imprisonment. On appeal,
Parkhurst challenges his conviction and sentence. We affirm
January to July 2015, Jeffrey Parkhurst posted a series of
internet advertisements on Craigslist's "casual
encounters" section. On July 20, for example, Parkhurst
posted the following ad:
Gentleman Lookin For Young Son - m4m(springfield)
Tryin to find a very young white boy in order to spend some
quality time together....he would be a little fella . kinda
thin built . not too tall . clean kept . little to no body
hair . average to good looking. (easy on the eyes lol) a
little white guy who is friendly and fun to be around...sense
of humor helps... 18 or slightly older (younger the
better)...must like to have a good time(not just sensual
speaking)...prefer you to be a virgin . as far as guys are
concerned . as I am myself one...like to do many different
things that are fun .... must enjoy being close . being
touched . massaged . rubbed all over with warming oil in a
dim lit room and made to feel very erotic and sexy....nothing
ever forced on you... goal is only to make you feel so good
you will not want it to end ....ever lol....we can try about
anything you have ever wondered about...you only need to ask
!... Me ?... just an older discrete white guy that's your
age at heart and built like a teenager who just needs a
discrete little friend to spend good times with...a reply
only cost ya a little time and may be the best thing you have
done in a long time....be safe...be cool...be happy !!! Not
looking for older guys so don't waste your time or mine .
thank you !
week later, Decatur Police Detective Todd Koester discovered
Parkhurst's advertisement and responded using an
undercover persona of 15-year-old "Kacy Lillard."
Kacy (Detective Koester) and Parkhurst then exchanged text
and email messages for the next eight and a half hours:
• Kacy initiated the interaction, stating, "just
wanted to say hi. im probably to[o] young but i am 15 and
liek to hang out." Parkhurst responded, "You are only
too young if you can't keep a secret lol. Hi
• Parkhurst stated that he "[w]ould love to give
[Kacy] an erotic sensual massage covering every inch of [his]
body in a candle lit room with a warming massage oil and
supplies to do whatever [he] want[ed] to try."
• Parkhurst asked Kacy whether he was "cut or
uncut.... referring to [Kacy's] penis." Upon
learning that Kacy was "cut, " Parkhurst stated,
"Really glad ur cut, so am I."
• Parkhurst proposed that he and Kacy "experiment
and explore together and only try what both of [them]
want[ed] to try."
• Parkhurst expressed that he "[m]ay like to try
and suck [Kacy]."
• In response to Kacy's question, "U think any
of its gonna hurt?/' Parkhurst answered, "I've
been studying up on the subject so I know what to do to
prepare you so it won't hurt! And I would not hurt you
for the world buddy....I will be extra careful buddy cause I
want both of us to want to do this over and over and not just
a one time deal lol."
Parkhurst and Kacy agreed to meet that night. Parkhurst
planned to pick Kacy up at his Decatur apartment (where
Detective Koester and other officers would be stationed) at
11:30 PM after Kacy's mother left for work. Parkhurst
would take Kacy to a truck stop for dinner, to
Parkhurst's Springfield home for the night, and back to
Decatur by 7:30 AM the next morning before his mother
returned. Kacy messaged that he would need to shower and pack
a bag for the night, and Parkhurst responded, "Cool make
sure ya clean ur self extra good all over lol and i'll
know if ya do later." While traveling to Decatur,
Parkhurst offered to purchase Kacy some candy, and stated,
"[J]ust gotta promise not to eat them all on the way
back here lol." Kacy asked, "Lol I won't. Y
not?, " and Parkhurst responded, "Not my kinda
candy ! It's all yours buddy....I'm pretty much gonna
spoil you anyway so get used to it ok ?"
about 11:30 PM, Parkhurst arrived at the Decatur address
Detective Koester had provided, and the police promptly
arrested and interviewed him. Detective Koester asked how old
Parkhurst had believed Kacy was, and Parkhurst answered,
"I assumed I was-well, at one point you said you were
sixteen. So I assumed I was talking to a fifteen or sixteen
year old." Parkhurst added, however, that he had
believed Kacy may have been lying about his age given the
multiple reported ages. Parkhurst acknowledged that he had
implicitly referenced oral sex in his conversation with Kacy,
and when asked whether someone reviewing Parkhurst's
exchanges with Kacy could reasonably conclude that Parkhurst
had intended to engage in sexual activity, Parkhurst
one-count indictment, the government charged Parkhurst with
attempting to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b). After a trial, a jury
found Parkhurst guilty, and the district court sentenced him
to one hundred thirty-two months' imprisonment and
fifteen years of supervised release. This appeal followed.
appeals both his conviction and his sentence. He requests a
new trial by challenging the admission of parts of Detective
Koester's testimony and the government's use of
certain emails during cross-examination and in closing
arguments. Parkhurst seeks resentencing based on the trial
court's use of an obstruction enhancement. We review for
an abuse of discretion the district court's evidentiary
rulings, United States v. Williams, 272 F.3d 845,
856 (7th Cir. 2001) (citation omitted), and
sentence-enhancement decisions, United States v.
Vasquez-Hernandez, 834 F.3d 852, 854 (7th Cir. 2016).
Detective Koester's Testimony
Koester served at trial as a dual fact-expert witness,
discussing both his interactions (as Kacy) with Parkhurst and
his experience involving internet crimes against children.
Parkhurst challenges as unreliable two particular portions of
Detective Koester's testimony: his understanding of
Parkhurst's (1) "candy" comments, and (2) July
20 Craigslist ad. Lastly, Parkhurst contends that Detective
Koester's dual fact-expert witness role confused the jury
We consider each argument in turn.
first challenges the admissibility of Detective Koester's
testimony regarding a candy-related conversation he had (as
Kacy) with Parkhurst. During direct examination, Detective
Koester described his understanding of the conversation:
Q: Okay. And then the rest of that portion of the
conversation talks about your preference of candy, hard or
chewy, et cetera. And then at 8:44 p.m., tell us about this
portion of the conversation.
A: He responds at 8:44 saying, "Cool, just gotta promise
not to eat them all on the way back here, LOL."
Q: And then your reaction?
A: At 8:50 I respond, "LOL, I won't. Why not?"
Q: And what does he say?
A: "Not my kind of candy. It's all yours,
Q: And what do you interpret that portion of the conversation
A: At that point, I'm thinking he doesn't want this
15-year-old kid to eat a lot of candy because it's gonna
interfere with the sexual activity that's supposed to
Defense: Objection, speculation.
Court: Overruled. He can - he's testifying as to what he
understood the conversation in which he is a part of
A: So, I'm thinking that he doesn't want this kid to
eat all this candy and get full because of the sexual
activity that's gonna take place; he doesn't want him
to be sick.
quotation marks added). Parkhurst asserts that this was
expert testimony under Federal Rule of Evidence 702, and
argues that the testimony lacked the necessary discussion of
"methodology, expertise, or scientific method." The
government, however, contends that this was lay-witness
testimony, subject to Rule 701's less-strict standards.
Rule 701, "[i]f a witness is not testifying as an
expert, testimony in the form of an opinion is limited to one
that is: (a) rationally based on the witness's
perception; (b) helpful to clearly understanding the
witness's testimony or to determining a fact in issue;
and (c) not based on scientific, technical, or other
specialized knowledge within the scope of Rule 702."
Fed.R.Evid. 701. We review decisions to admit lay-opinion
testimony pursuant to Rule 701 for abuse of discretion.
Yancick v. Hanna Steel Corp., 653 F.3d 532, 547 (7th
Cir. 2011) (citation omitted). Rule 702 expert testimony, on
the other hand, is based on a witness's knowledge, skill,
experience, training, or education, and must be based on
sufficient facts and reliable principles and methods.
Fed.R.Evid. 702. The standard of review is also different: We
review de novo whether the court applied the required Rule
702 framework, and for an abuse of discretion the court's
decision to admit or exclude the expert testimony. United
States v. Pansier, 576 F.3d 726, 737-38 (7th Cir. 2009)
together, the government's examination, Detective
Koester's answers, and the district court's ruling
made clear that Detective Koester's testimony about the
"candy" conversation was based on his perception of
the conversation at the time it occurred -classic Rule 701
lay-witness testimony. The government, for example, inquired
about Detective Koester's "reactions" to
Parkhurst's messages, and Detective Koester explained his
view of the conversation "at that point." And the
district court cleared up any confusion regarding the basis
for Detective Koester's answers when the court overruled
Parkhurst's speculation objection, clarifying that the
detective was testifying about his understanding of the
conversation at the time he was participating in it. As such,
this testimony need only satisfy Rule 701's requirements.
The district court held that it did, and we see no abuse of
discretion in admitting it.
July 2 0 Craigslis t Advertisemen t
Koester was qualified as an expert without objection and gave
expert testimony on the ways in which child predators use
certain key words in Craigslist advertisements to evade
detection,  basing his awareness on years of
experience in investigating online child abuse and on
relevant training. Detective Koester then testified about his
particular understanding of Parkhurst's July 20
Q: Now, I believe your testimony yesterday discussed certain
parts of advertisements that you look for that are indicative
to you, based on your training and experience, of individuals
who may be seeking a minor. What parts of [Parkhurst's]
ad struck you [when you first saw it on July 27]?
A: Well, the first line, "very young white boy, a little
fella." The "18 or slightly older, " right in
parentheses after that, "younger the better, " that
struck me as something that somebody - okay, I'm
complying with Craigslist rules by putting 18 or slightly
older, but I'm-
Defense: Objection, speculation.
Government: Your Honor, this witness has been qualified as an
expert and can testify to his training and experience and why
this ad struck him.
Court: The objection's overruled actually for the reasons
[the government] states. He's been qualified as an expert
in online investigations. He's able to testify as to ...
his experience and give his expert opinion.
A: The - in parentheses right after the "18 or slightly
older" where it says "the younger the better/'
that's a way for people to get around the Craigslist
terms and conditions basically without saying younger.
That's just a hint to people reading it. "Prefer you
to be a virgin." Built - basically him describing
himself as ...