from the United States District Court for the Middle District
of Florida D.C. Docket No. 8:16-cr-00239-SCB-JSS-1
JILL PRYOR and HULL, Circuit Judges, and PROCTOR, [*] District Judge.
PRYOR, Circuit Judge
of Delexsia Harris's brothers were charged in federal
court with a drug and racketeering conspiracy involving
multiple murders. In an effort to secure her brothers'
acquittal, Harris lied to law enforcement, encouraged a
witness to provide false alibi testimony, and threatened
individuals who might testify against her brothers. Harris
was convicted of witness tampering and obstruction of
justice. She now appeals her convictions, challenging several
of the district court's evidentiary rulings. After
careful review, and with the benefit of oral argument, we
lived in a house on 24th Street in Bradenton, Florida, with
her father, Napoleon Harris Sr., and her brothers, Charlie
Green, Napoleon Harris Jr., and Nathaniel Harris. Another
brother, Corey Harris, lived nearby. Harris's brothers
often sold drugs and used the 24th Street house as a base for
conducting some of their drug distribution activities. The
following evidence was presented at trial.
Ceola Lazier's Murder
girlfriend, Lashawn White, testified at Harris's trial
that she overheard someone tell Green that another drug
dealer named Ceola Lazier "want[ed] [Green] dead because
he was . . . taking all of the drug money" from the drug
business in the area. Doc. 97 at 40. The next day, Green called
Harris and asked her to meet him at White's house. When
Harris arrived at White's house, Green told Harris that
"he needed her to get [Lazier's] number because
[Lazier] want[ed] . . . [Green] dead and they need[ed] to
handle that." Id. at 42. Harris and Green then
left White's house together.
that day, Green visited several of his associates, including
Christopher Barton and Willie Miller, at a house where they
all sold drugs. Barton testified at trial that Green told the
others he was looking for Nathaniel Harris's AR-15 rifle.
Miller said that he had the rifle at his house, so Barton and
Green went to Miller's house and retrieved it. They then
headed to Green's house, where Green retrieved a second
and Barton drove to White's house and exchanged
Green's car for White's Ford Taurus. Then they drove
to the Harrises' house on 24th Street. Later that same
day, Jimmy Boyd, another of Green's associates, joined
Green and Barton at the 24th Street house. The group
discussed their plan to have Harris bring Lazier to the 24th
Street house and then to kill him there. Barton questioned
why Lazier would come to the 24th Street house amid his
dispute with Green, who lived there, but Green told Barton
not to worry because Harris "was going to bring him over
there." Id. at 80-81. The group eventually went
across the street to Boyd's house where they waited to
execute the plan.
fell asleep later that night as they waited at Boyd's
house. Green woke Barton up in the early morning hours and
told him that they had "almost missed a text, "
meaning a text message from Harris, and that the plan was
going into motion. Id. at 81. As the others in the
group checked their guns and put black t-shirts over their
faces as masks, Barton-tasked with serving as the getaway
driver-went outside and started the car. A few seconds later,
Barton heard "30 or 40" gun shots. Doc. 96 at 217.
Green and one of the other men then ran to the car and jumped
in, and Barton drove them away.
who had spent the evening with Lazier, called 911 and
reported that she and Lazier had been followed by a white
truck and that people in the truck had started shooting at
them when she got out of Lazier's car in front of the
24th Street house. Harris told the 911 operator that she
thought Lazier was dead inside the car. She also reported
that the white truck, which she identified as a Mercedes
Benz, had sped off.
police officer dispatched to the scene found Lazier's
car, which had been shot on both sides and through the
windshield. Lazier's body was inside the car in the
driver's seat. Bullet casings were strewn across the
The Investigation of Lazier's Murder
Police Department Detective James Curulla met with Harris at
the police station hours after the murder. The video of
Curulla's interview with Harris was played for the jury
during Harris's trial. In the interview, Harris reported
the incident to Curulla as follows. Harris was with her
boyfriend, Lazier, outside of his grandmother's house in
Palmetto, Florida, when a white Mercedes Benz truck began
driving around them. Harris became frightened and asked
Lazier to take her home. The truck followed them as they
stopped at a gas station along the way. After they left the
gas station, they drove to the 24th Street house. As soon as
they arrived there, the truck drove at them from the opposite
direction on 24th Street. When Harris got out of the car, two
men jumped out of the truck and started shooting. Harris ran
from the scene and was unable to see the shooters' faces.
She noticed, however, that the shooters were wearing all
black and carrying large rifles. Harris told Curulla that a
few days earlier Lazier had been in a fight with somebody
from Palmetto over drug money.
testified that Harris left the police station and went to
White's house, where she told White what had happened.
Harris told White that she had contacted Lazier at
Green's request and that she and Lazier had gone out for
dinner together. After dinner, Lazier had driven her back to
the 24th Street house, and-while still in Lazier's
car-Harris had pretended to take a phone call from a friend.
After she hung up, Green and another man had come from behind
a house and started shooting at Lazier's car. As Harris
was explaining to White what had happened, Green arrived at
White's house and asked Harris what she had told the
police. Harris replied that she had not told the police
anything. White went outside to see if Green had returned her
car and found a stretched out black t-shirt in the backseat.
Harris was at White's house, Curulla investigated the
scene of Lazier's murder. By examining the shell casings
he found, Curulla determined that the shots had come from two
different guns, an AR-15 and an AK-47. Based on the location
of the shell casings, Curulla determined-contrary to what
Harris had told him-that the vehicle containing the shooters
could not have driven toward Lazier's vehicle from the
opposite direction on 24th Street. A vehicle driving from the
opposite direction would have driven over the shell
casings-which remained intact on the road-as it left the
acquired several surveillance videos that also contradicted
Harris's account. First, a surveillance video from a
nearby business showed that Lazier and Harris had not taken
the route that Harris had described to Curulla. This video
also showed that no white vehicle had been following them.
Second, footage from a camera at a traffic light along the
route where Harris said she and Lazier had traveled failed to
show that they were followed by a white vehicle. A third
video, taken from the gas station where Lazier and Harris had
stopped, showed that no white Mercedes Benz truck had been at
the gas station at the same time as Lazier and Harris. The
gas station video did reveal, however, that a different white
truck-likely a Cadillac or Chevrolet-had been at the gas
station that night.
days after Lazier's murder, Curulla took Harris on a
"ride-along, " meaning they traveled together along
the route that Harris claimed to have driven with Lazier on
the night of the murder, beginning at Lazier's
grandmother's house. Harris was "adamant" that
the truck that had followed them was a Mercedes Benz, noting
that she had been able to "see the Mercedes emblem"
as she looked in the side-view mirror of Lazier's car.
Doc. 98 at 121-23. But when Curulla confronted Harris with
the fact that the gas station video ...