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United States v. Parker

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 5, 2017




         I. Introduction

         In May 2013, Ramone Reno Parker pleaded guilty to a charge of felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). On August 30, 2013, the undersigned sentenced Parker to a 30-month term of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release (Doc. 31). Parker began his term of supervised release on August 18, 2015 (Doc. 39). On June 10, 2016, the United States (“the Government”) filed a petition to revoke Parker's supervised release, alleging that he had violated multiple terms of his supervision. The most serious violation alleges that Parker committed the crime of first-degree murder of Lamondo Brown while he was on supervised release. On March 28, 2017, he initially appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Clifford J. Proud, and a final revocation hearing was set for April 14, 2017.

         The revocation hearing was continued twice-once on the Government's motion and once on defense counsel's motion. Three weeks before the July 20, 2017, revocation hearing, defense counsel filed an objection to hearsay evidence and motion in limine along with a supporting brief and exhibits (Docs. 54, 55). The Government timely responded on July 12, 2017 (Doc. 57). The Court heard oral arguments at the July 20, 2017, hearing and took the matter under advisement. After the hearing, the Government, with Parker's consent, submitted several exhibits to the Court, including a group of video exhibits, a set of photographs, and excerpts from police reports.

         Parker objects to the admission of the videotaped interrogation of Jarrett Richardson, the only eyewitness to the murder of Lamondo Brown, arguing that Richardson's statements to investigators are hearsay and that admitting them would violate Parker's Sixth Amendment right to confront adverse witnesses, violate his Fifth Amendment right to due process, and run afoul of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32.1 For the reasons delineated below, the Court will admit the statements over Defendant's objection at the revocation hearing, which is now scheduled for September 14, 2017.

         II. Factual and Procedural Background

         On June 10, 2016, the Government filed a petition for revocation of Ramone Parker's supervised release, alleging violations of several conditions of release. Parker takes issue with the allegation that he violated a condition requiring that he “not commit another federal, state or local crime” by murdering Lamondo Brown on May 28, 2016 (Doc. 39, p. 1).

         Lamondo Brown was murdered in Cahokia, Illinois. The Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis identified a car that passed him shortly before his death as one belonging to the girlfriend of Jarrett Richardson. On May 30, 2016, Major Case Squad investigators and parole agents from the Illinois Department of Corrections arrested and questioned Richardson about his role in the murder. In a series of interviews, Jarrett initially denied having any knowledge of Brown's murder before eventually confessing that he was driving the car that passed Brown moments before Brown was shot. According to Jarrett, however, it was Parker who got out of the car, while it was still moving, and shot at Brown.

         During his first interview on May 30, 2016, Richardson slouched in his chair and appeared uninterested in speaking with the investigators. When asked about details related to the investigation, he claimed that he did not know what the investigators were talking about. The investigators took a break before returning for a second interview. Richardson continued to insist that he had no information about Brown's murder, even after investigators showed him evidence that contradicted his story. After being presented confronted with the conflicting information, Richardson's conversation with the investigators became heated. Richardson asked for an attorney, and the interview ended. Later that evening, Richardson withdrew his request for an attorney and slowly became more cooperative with the officers. That night, he asked to speak to his mother and girlfriend, saying that he would be ready to talk with investigators if they would allow him to make phone calls.

         The Court did not receive a copy of Richardson's call with his girlfriend from the parties, but the Court did receive a copy of Richardson's call with his mother, Kelly Richardson. Richardson called his mother for advice. He was distressed during the call and told her was worried he would be charged with a murder he didn't commit. He told her that he was with Parker around the time of the murder, and his mother told him that he should not confess to something he didn't do. Kelly Richardson came to the Cahokia Police Department the next morning to talk with Jarrett in person. Their conversation was video recorded. Kelly Richardson warned Jarrett that he needed to tell the truth and asked him what the truth was. When he wouldn't answer her questions, she pressed him and asked what he was “hiding for, ” prompting Richardson to tell her that “Mone [Parker] did it.” Kelly Richardson asked Jarrett why he hadn't told the investigators, and Jarrett responded “because Mone is my friend.” Mrs. Richardson encouraged her son to tell the truth and to tell the police that Parker shot Brown. The parties argue that different parts of their conversation are significant.

         The Government focuses on Richardson's mother saying, “if Mone did it, then that's what you need to say.” (Doc. 57, p. 4.). Parker highlights the fact that Richardson's mother warned him that “Mone is going to rat you out.” (Doc. 54, p. 6).

         Ultimately, after speaking to his mother, Richardson confessed that he and Parker were driving past Brown when Parker opened the passenger door and began to climb out, causing Richardson to stop the car. According to Richardson, Parker then pulled a gun from his pocket and shot at Brown, who later died from a gunshot wound to his chest. (Doc. 57, p. 9). When he told the investigators about the murder, Richardson cried and appeared distressed. Despite his emotional state, Richardson confidently relayed the events that that led to Brown's murder. In the interviews conducted after Richardson spoke with his mother, he consistently provided the same account of the murder.

         After Richardson implicated him, Parker was arrested on May 31, 2016, and charged with first-degree murder in St. Clair County, Illinois (state court case number 16-CF-731). Richardson was a key prosecution witness. Before he could testify at trial, however, Richardson was killed, allegedly while committing a home invasion and armed robbery (Docs. 55-1, 55-2). After Richardson's death, the State dropped its murder charges against Parker (Doc. 55-2). The Government, however, is proceeding with its revocation petition, seeking to introduce Richardson's statements as evidence against Parker.

         III. ...

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