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United States v. Arkinson

United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division

January 22, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
GABRIEL ELIJAH KANE ARKINSON, a/k/a Daniel Elijahkane Arkinson, JAMIE NICOLE MILSTEN, and MELISSA DAWN SHURTLIFF Defendants.

          ORDER

          CHARLES C. LOVELL, SENIOR UNTTED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is "Defendant Arkinson's Post-Trial Motion for Acquittal Under Rule 29(c)." (Doc. 148). The United States opposes the motion. The Court has reviewed the record and is prepared to rule.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The Grand Jury charged Defendant Arkinson with conspiracy to commit robbery affecting commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) (Count I), with robbery affecting commerce in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) (Count II) and with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(2) (Count III).

         On October 3, 2018, at the close of the government's evidence, Defendant Arkinson made a Rule 29 Motion for Judgment of Acquittal, which was denied. Defendant Arkinson renewed his motion after all the parties had rested, later that day, and the Court denied the renewed motion. On October 4, 2018, a unanimous jury found Defendant Arkinson guilty of all three counts charged in the Indictment. Now before the Court is Defendant's timely-filed renewed Motion for Judgment of Acquittal, which is again opposed by the government.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The familiar standard for deciding a motion for acquittal, as articulated in Jackson v. Virginia, requires this Court to determine whether, "after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979)(emphasis in original). In making this determination, this Court neither resolves credibility issues nor weighs the evidence, as those are questions for the jury. United States v. Burns, 701 F.2d 840, 842 (9th Cir. 1983).

         ARGUMENTS

         Defendant Arkinson's theory at trial was that he did not rob the victim at gunpoint because it was the government's key witness, Curtis Alexander, who entered the home of the victim armed with a weapon.

         Defendant Arkinson now argues that the Court should grant his renewed motion for acquittal because the victims of the robbery (Patrick Lovett and Vickie Anderson) were unable to consistently identify him as the male robber and actually identified Mr. Alexander as the male robber. (Doc. 149 at 2). Defendant Arkinson also argues that the jury should have discounted Mr. Alexander's testimony because it was contradicted by the testimony of another government witness, Annie Banks. (Doc. 149 at 3). Defendant Arkinson argues that the jury's verdict should be set aside because the jurors relied on narratives that impeached one another, citing United States v. Whitson, 587 F.2d 948, 953 (9th Cir. 1978).

         Although the United States admits that Mr. Lovett's identification of Defendant Arkinson at trial was equivocal, (Doc. 154 at 4), it disputes Defendant Arkinson's claim that Mr. Alexander was identified as the male robber at trial.

         The United States also argues that Defendant Arkinson's reliance on Whitson to support his argument that the jury cannot use narratives that impeach one another in deciding a defendant's guilt or innocence because this case is distinguishable from Whitson.

         DISCUSSION

         Defendant Arkinson's reliance on Whitson is misplaced. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the judgment in Whitson because the trial court erred by allowing "the prosecution to use illegally obtained evidence for impeachment on a matter not opened by the defendant." 587 F.2d at 952. Defendant Arkinson has not demonstrated that the ...


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