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United States v. Richardson

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

June 4, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
DUSTEN ANDREW RICHARDSON, Defendant.

          ORDER

          KRISTI K. DUBOSE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant Dusten Andrew Richardson’s Motion for Judgment of Acquittal and in the Alternative, Motion for New Trial and the United States’ Response. (Docs. 26 & 28). Richardson advances two main arguments. First, Richardson argues he never completed the act of stealing the firearms therefore cannot be convicted of possessing stolen firearms. Second, Richardson argues that the United States’ theory of the case-i.e., “a defendant could commit a theft of a firearm, and in the next instant, the defendant could also be guilty of being in possession of a ‘stolen’ firearm”-runs contrary to the plain language of the statute pursuant to which the jury convicted Richardson. (Doc. 26 at 2-3).

         I. Background

         The United States’, in response, adeptly synthesized the evidence of Richardson’s crime, which Richardson largely did not contest at trial.

The unrefuted testimony was that the defendant burglarized the barn and two sheds on the Hatchett’s family farm in the early morning hours of December 19, 2017. While compiling items to take, Richardson moved two firearms and ammunition around the property. Before leaving the property, Richardson was confronted by Hatchett and his two sons who held Richardson at gunpoint while deputies were in route to the farm. Richardson was eventually apprehended and arrested.
Richardson admitted to a detective on that date to attempting to take the property including the firearms. Items that did not belong to the Hatchett’s was found on the property along with an identification card that belong to Richardson. Ten days later, Richardson was interviewed by a special agent and admitted to moving the Hatchett’s property, including the firearms, around the barn and sheds but did not know what he intended to do with the property. There was a stipulation that the firearms were in and affecting interstate commerce.

(Doc. 28 at 2).

         On February 21, 2018, the grand jury indicted Dusten Andrew Richardson on a single count. (Doc. 1). The indictment alleged Richardson knowingly received, possessed, concealed, and stored two stolen firearms, a Marlin rifle and a Rossi shotgun. (Id.) The statute under which the grand jury indicted Richardson was 18 U.S.C. § 922(j). The issue Richardson raises in his motion for new trial came up early, when Richard filed a motion for Bill of Particulars. (Doc. 13). There, Richardson’s counsel requested “details in order to determine whether to file a Motion to Dismiss . . . .” (Doc. 13 at 3). Magistrate Judge P. Bradley Murray denied Richardson’s motion because it failed to fall within the Eleventh Circuit’s standard required for a Bill of Particulars. (Doc. 16; United States v. Davis, 854 F.3d 1276, 1293 (11th Cir.) (noting “a defendant is not entitled to a bill of particulars where the information sought has already been provided by other sources, such as the indictment and discovery”)).

         Trial began and ended on April 30. After a short trial, with even shorter jury deliberations, Richardson was convicted. Before the defense recessed, without putting forth any evidence, Richardson moved for judgment of acquittal, which the Court denied.

         II. Analysis

         The statute under which Richardson was indicted and convicted, 18 U.S.C. § 922(j), provides that

It shall be unlawful for any person to receive, possess, conceal, store, barter, sell, or dispose of any stolen firearm or stolen ammunition, or pledge or accept as security for a loan any stolen firearm or stolen ammunition, which is moving as, which is a part of, which constitutes, or which has been shipped or transported in, interstate or foreign commerce, either before or after it was stolen, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the firearm or ammunition was stolen.
Because Richardson’s motion is predicated on two rules, the Court applies two standards.

         a. Motion for ...


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