United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Newport News Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. Wright Allen, United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Jesse Lamont
Lockhart's Motion for Severance of Counts Three and Four
of the Superseding Indictment (ECF No. 28). Because joinder
is proper and Defendant fails to show that he would suffer
any undue prejudice, Defendant's Motion to Sever is
January 11, 2017, Defendant was named in a two-count
Indictment arising from an alleged armed robbery of an Exxon
gas station and convenience store in March 2016. See
Indictment (ECF No. 12). In the course of that robbery, the
Government alleges that Defendant brandished and pointed a
firearm at an Exxon convenience store employee. See
Id. Count One charged Defendant with Interference with
Commerce by Robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
1951(a). See Id. at 1-2. Count Two charged Defendant
with Brandishing a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of
Violence, in violation 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A). See
Id. at 3. The Norfolk Federal Public Defender's
Office was appointed to represent Defendant after his arrest
on these charges.
Superseding Indictment was filed on May 18, 2017, charging
Defendant with two additional offenses that arise from his
alleged actions while he was detained pending trial.
See Superseding Indictment (ECF No. 22). Count Three
charges him with Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice, in violation
of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1503, 1512. See Id. at
4-7. Count Four charges him with Obstruction of Justice, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1503(c). See Id. at 8.
These counts allege that Defendant and a co-conspirator (his
mother) provided false evidence to the Government by
arranging to surrender an airsoft pistol replica of the gun
he is charged with brandishing. See Id. at 4-8. The
Government asserts that because an airsoft pistol does not
meet the definition of "firearm" specified in the
brandishing statute, 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3), Defendant
allegedly produced the airsoft pistol to evade a conviction
for brandishing. The Superseding Indictment charges that
these alleged acts constitute obstruction of justice. See
result of these alleged events, the Federal Public Defender
withdrew from representing Defendant and a new attorney was
appointed to represent him in this matter. See Mot.
Withdraw (ECF No. 19); see also Withdraw Resp. (ECF
No. 20). A jury trial on all four counts is scheduled to
begin on September 26, 2017.
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 8(a)
Rule of Criminal Procedure 8(a) governs the joinder of
offenses in a single indictment or information. Joinder is
permissible if the offenses are: (1) "of the same or
similar character;" (2) "based on the same act or
transaction;" or (3) "connected with or constitute
parts of a common scheme or plan." Fed. R. Crim. P.
8(a). Courts "interpret the second and third alternative
prongs of this rule 'flexibly, requiring that the joined
offenses have a logical relationship to one
another.'" United States v. McLaurin, 764
F.3d 372, 385 (4th Cir. 2014) (quoting United States v.
Cardwell, 433 F.3d 378, 385 (4th Cir. 2005)).
have a logical relationship for Rule 8(a) purposes
'"when consideration of discrete counts against the
defendant paints an incomplete picture of the defendant's
criminal enterprise.'" Id. (quoting
Cardwell, 433 F.3d at 385). "Rule 8(a) permits
'very broad joinder, ' 'because the prospect of
duplicating witness testimony, impaneling additional jurors,
and wasting limited judicial resources suggests that related
offenses should be tried in a single proceeding."'
United States v. Hawkins, 116 F.3d 200, 206 (4th
Cir. 2015) (quoting United States v. Mackins, 315
F.3d 399, 412 (4th Cir. 2003)); see also United States v.
Mir, 525 F.3d 351, 357 (4th Cir. 2008)).
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 14(a)
Rule of Criminal Procedure 14(a) states that "if the
joinder of offenses ... in an indictment. . . appears to
prejudice a defendant or the government, the court may order
separate trials of counts ...." Courts consider three
possible sources of prejudice in this inquiry:
(1) the jury may believe that a person charged with a large
number of offenses has a criminal disposition, and as a
result may cumulate the evidence against him or her or
perhaps lessen the presumption of innocence;
(2) evidence of guilt on one count may "spillover"
to other counts, and lead to a conviction on those other
counts even though the spillover evidence would have been
inadmissible at a separate trial; and
(3) [the] defendant may wish to testify in his or her own
defense on one charge ...