United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Newport News Division
For Christopher Devon Barrett, also known as " Murda" , also known as " C-Murda" , Defendant: Lawrence Hunter Woodward , Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Shuttleworth Ruloff Swain Haddad & Morecock PC, Virginia Beach, VA.
For Timothy Ray Alexander, also known as " Pee-Wee" , Defendant: Christian Lee Connell, LEAD ATTORNEY, Norfolk, VA.
For Antoine Maurice Richardson, also known as " Chino" , Defendant: Fernando Groene, LEAD ATTORNEY, Fernando Groene, P. C., Williamsburg, VA; James Orlando Broccoletti, LEAD ATTORNEY, Zoby & Broccoletti, Norfolk, VA.
For USA, Plaintiff: Laura Pellatiro Tayman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Howard J. Zlotnick, Rebecca A Staton, Robert Edward Bradenham , II, United States Attorney Office (Newport News), Newport News, VA.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Raymond A. Jackson, United States District Judge.
Before the Court is Defendant Timothy Ray Alexander's Motion to Sever Count Nineteen or in the alternative for Bifurcation of Trial (ECF No. 370), filed on April 2, 2014. To prevent potential prejudice, Defendant asks this Court to sever the felon in possession of a firearm count from the other charges in the Second Superseding Indictment or to bifurcate his trial so that, unless and until the jurors determine possession, they do not learn of his alleged prior felony convictions. For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's Motion to Sever or for Bifurcation is DENIED.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Timothy Ray Alexander (" Defendant" ) has been charged with six counts in the Second Superseding Indictment: Count 1, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute, heroin, cocaine base and cocaine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code Section 846; Count 11, possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, in violation of Title 21, United States Code Sections 841(a)(1) and (b) (1) (C); Counts 13-14, possession with intent to distribute heroin, in violation of Title 21, United States Code Sections 841(a)(1) and (b) (1) (C); Count 17, possession of a firearm in a drug trafficking crime, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c); and Count 19, felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of Title 18, United States Code Section 922(g) (" felon in possession count" ). The Indictment alleges that Defendant served as a mid-level dealer for the Barrett drug trafficking conspiracy. Indictment at pages 2-4. The Indictment also alleges that Defendant and his co-defendants " regularly possessed, used and carried firearms to protect members of the BARRETT DTO from rival drug dealers, and to protect controlled substances and drug proceeds controlled by the BARRETT DTO, from rivals." Id. at 4. Counts 17 and 19 involve the same firearm, which Defendant allegedly possessed.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 8(a) provides that " [t]he indictment . . . may charge a defendant in separate counts with [two] or more offenses if  the offenses charged . . . are of the same or similar character, . . .  are based on the same act or transaction, or  are connected with or constitute parts of a common scheme or plan." The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (" Fourth Circuit" ) has interpreted the latter two prongs of this rule flexibly, requiring that the joined offenses have a " logical relationship" to one another. United States v. Hirschfeld, 964 F.2d 318, 323 (4th Cir. 1992). Rule 8(a) " permit[s] very broad joinder" because of the efficiency in trying the defendant on related counts in the same trial. United States v. Mackins, 315 F.3d 399, 412 (4th Cir. 2003); see also United States v. Stokes, 211 F.3d 1039, 1042 (7th Cir. 2000) (" [C]ourts . . . have a strong interest in favor of joinder of offenses; in particular, joinder of offenses reduces the waste of precious judicial and prosecutorial time in the already overburdened federal judicial system and reduces the burdens on witnesses from testifying at multiple trials." ).
Rule 14(a) provides that " [i]f the joinder of offenses . . . for trial appears to prejudice a ...