from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Florida D.C. Docket No. 1:16-cr-20316-MGC-1
MARCUS, FAY and HULL, Circuit Judges.
Keenan Jermaine Joyner appeals his conviction and sentence
after a jury found him guilty of being a convicted felon in
possession of a firearm and ammunition. On appeal, defendant
Joyner argues that the district court's supplemental jury
instruction did not adequately address the jury's
question about possession of a firearm. Joyner also contends
that the district court erred in concluding that his prior
Florida convictions for attempted strong arm robbery and
resisting an officer with violence are "violent
felonies" under the Armed Career Criminal Act
("ACCA"). After careful review, and with the
benefit of oral argument, we affirm.
6, 2016, a federal grand jury indicted defendant Joyner on
one count of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a
convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§
922(g)(1) & 924(e)(1). Joyner pled not guilty, and the
case proceeded to a jury trial beginning on August 29, 2016.
Evidence at Trial
trial, the government presented four witnesses: Detective
Martin Garcia, Detective Dustin James, crime scene technician
Andrea Amy, and crime lab analyst Hali Meyer.
Garcia testified as follows. Garcia and other officers were
conducting surveillance on a particular car, in connection
with an ongoing investigation. Defendant Joyner was not the
registered owner of the car, and was not a subject of the
day in question, Detective Garcia and other officers were
covertly observing the subject car, which was parked in a lot
adjacent to a convenience store and laundromat. One of the
observing officers, Detective Dustin James, was the
"eyeball" of the surveillance team, meaning that he
maintained visual contact with the car at all times. Garcia
testified that when Detective James, the "eyeball,
" told the other officers over the radio that the car
appeared to be occupied, all of the officers, including
Garcia, began moving toward the car from their various
Detective Garcia approached, he saw two people standing in
front of the car, one of whom was defendant Joyner. When
Joyner realized that police officers were approaching him, he
ran from the front of the car to the driver's side door.
Joyner was "about 20, 25 feet" away from Garcia. At
that point, Garcia saw a firearm in Joyner's left hand,
"as if he was withdrawing it from his waistband."
Garcia testified he was "[a]bsolutely 100 percent"
certain he saw a firearm in Joyner's left hand.
Garcia testified that when Joyner reached the driver's
side door, he spun around, opened the door, dropped to one
knee, and "slides the gun underneath the seat."
Garcia did not see which hand Joyner used to open the car
door. However, as far as Garcia could tell, the gun was in
Joyner's left hand at all times.
Garcia immediately radioed the code "55" to the
other officers, which told the officers that a gun was
present. The detectives moved in, and Joyner was "taken
down." Approximately one minute later, after Joyner was
in custody, Garcia looked inside the car and saw a firearm
underneath the driver's seat. Later, when the firearm was
collected from the scene, it was found to contain an
ammunition magazine with eight live projectile cartridges.
government's second eyewitness, Detective Dustin James,
was the "eyeball." James testified that the car was
parked in front of the laundromat and backed into a parking
space, such that James's vantage point was from the front
of the car. At a certain point, James saw two men, one of
whom was Joyner, walking towards the car. One of the men-the
one who was not Joyner-opened a car door on the passenger
side and started loading bins of laundry into the car. The
other man-Joyner-remained in front of the car,
"basically looking around."
Detective James saw Joyner and the other individual occupy
the car, James radioed the other officers to take both men
into custody. The officers converged on the car. James
testified that as the officers approached the car, he saw
defendant Joyner move from the front of the car to the
driver's side and open the driver's side door. James
heard Detective Garcia scream "55" as Joyner opened
the door, which James understood to mean a gun was present.
However, because Joyner's back was to James as Joyner
opened the car door, James never saw a gun in Joyner's
hand. James did not know which hand Joyner used to open the
car door, but James "assum[ed]" that Joyner used
his left hand. James testified that he never saw Joyner bend
down or put anything under the driver's seat. The
government's third witness, crime scene technician Andrea
Amy, testified that she did not find any fingerprints on the
gun or ammunition magazine recovered from the car. However,
Amy explained that "many factors" can affect
whether a fingerprint is left on an item. Amy further
testified that after testing for fingerprints, she collected
DNA swabs from the gun, the magazine, and the eight live
projectile cartridges. The swabs were then sent to the county
DNA lab for analysis.
government's last witness, crime lab analyst Hali Meyer,
testified that she tested the DNA swabs taken from the gun
and magazine, but was unable to confirm that Joyner's DNA
was present. Meyer testified that there are "a lot of
reasons" DNA might not be left behind after a person
handles an object.
did not present any witnesses. The parties stipulated that
Joyner had a previous felony conviction and that the firearm
he allegedly possessed affected interstate or foreign
commerce. Thus, the only contested issue was whether Joyner
possessed the firearm.
The Jury Charge
the close of evidence, the district court excused the jury
while the parties discussed the proposed jury instructions.
Among other things, the parties agreed to remove instructions
concerning "several kinds of possession" and
"constructive possession, " but to leave in
instructions regarding "actual possession" and
the jury returned, the district court issued the instructions
to the jury. The district court gave the charge verbally and
in writing to the jury. In relevant part, on page 10, the
charge instructed that the government had to prove defendant
Joyner "knowingly possessed" the firearm, stating:
It's a Federal crime for anyone who has been convicted of
a felony offense to possess a firearm and/or ammunition in or
affecting interstate or foreign commerce.
The Defendant can be found guilty of this crime only if all
the following facts are proved beyond a reasonable doubt:
(1)the Defendant knowingly possessed a firearm
and/or ammunition in or affecting interstate or foreign
(2)before possessing the firearm and/or ammunition, the
Defendant had been convicted of a felony - a crime punishable
by imprisonment for more than one year.
11 of the charge, the district court instructed the jury
about actual and sole possession, stating:
"Actual possession" of a thing occurs if a person
knowingly has direct physical ...