Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Carpenter

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

May 9, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Roxanne Marie Carpenter, Defendant-Appellant. United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Fausto Velazquez, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued and Submitted April 15, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona Nos. 4:17-cr-00602-CKJ-EJM-1, 4:17-cr-00602-CKJ-EJM-4 Cindy K. Jorgenson, District Judge, Presiding

          S. Jonathan Young (argued), Law Offices of Williamson & Young P.C., Tucson, Arizona, for Defendant-Appellant Roxanne Carpenter.

          Joshua F. Hamilton (argued) and Carol L. Lamoureux, Law Offices of Hernandez & Hamilton PC, Tucson, Arizona, for Defendant-Appellant Fausto Velazquez.

          Erica Anderson McCallum (argued), Assistant United States Attorney; Robert L, Miskell, Appellate Chief; Elizabeth A. Strange, First Assistant United States Attorney; United States Attorney's Office, Tucson, Arizona; for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Before: MICHAEL D. HAWKINS and MILAN D. SMITH, JR., Circuit Judges, and KATHRYN H. VRATIL, [*] District Judge.

         SUMMARY[**]

         Criminal Law

         The panel affirmed rulings by the district court in a case in which Roxanne Carpenter and Fausto Velasquez were jointly tried and convicted of conspiracy to kidnap and kidnapping.

         The panel held that the common law right of access attaches to pre-trial offers of proof for a duress defense, and that because Carpenter failed to provide a compelling reason to overcome this presumptive right of access, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Carpenter's motion to seal her proffer.

         The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in permitting the government to present under Fed.R.Evid. 404(b) evidence of trafficking of marijuana to Carpenter's house and the subsequent disappearance of the marijuana, which was necessary to provide a coherent and comprehensible story regarding the background for Gonzalez's kidnapping.

         The panel held that evidence of Carpenter's, Velazquez's, and their codefendants' use of methamphetamine at a friend's home during the kidnapping was not inextricably intertwined with the charged crimes so as to escape the bounds of Rule 404(b), and that the district court abused its discretion in admitting the evidence, which should have been excluded under Fed.R.Evid. 403's balancing of probative value and prejudice. The panel concluded that this error was harmless.

         The panel addressed other claims in a concurrently filed memorandum disposition.

          OPINION

          M. SMITH, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         In March 2017, Roxanne Carpenter, Fausto Velazquez, Phoelix Begay, and Brian Meyers (together, codefendants) kidnapped Angel Gonzalez-who was suspected of stealing marijuana from a Mexican cartel-to turn him over to the cartel in exchange for thirty pounds of marijuana. After a five-day trial, a jury convicted Carpenter and Velazquez of conspiracy to kidnap, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1) and (c), and kidnapping, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1). Carpenter and Velazquez appeal a series of the district court's rulings pertaining to their joint trial.[1] We affirm the district court.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In early 2017, Gonzalez, who worked for a member of the Mexican cartel, and Velazquez, transported twelve 88-pound bundles of marijuana from Hereford, Arizona to Carpenter's home. At some point, a portion of the marijuana disappeared from Carpenter's home. The cartel suspected that Gonzalez was responsible for the missing marijuana, and word of there being a bounty on his head spread through the community. Armed cartel members went to Carpenter's home, looking for the missing drugs and Gonzalez. Two days later, the police went to her house and asked questions about the cartel members who had recently visited the house.

         In March 2017, Begay informed Carpenter that he could no longer hold off the cartel, and that the cartel was going to make Velazquez pay for the missing marijuana. Meyers testified at trial that he believed that the codefendants planned to kidnap Gonzalez to turn him over to the cartel to protect their "family." Velazquez negotiated with the cartel, arriving at a final price of thirty pounds of marijuana in exchange for Gonzalez.

         On March 29, 2017, Meyers borrowed Carpenter's vehicle, first picking up Gonzalez from his apartment, then Begay from his home, under the pretense that they were taking Gonzalez to Elfrida, Arizona so that he could detox from drugs. On the way, Meyers changed the plans and they drove instead towards Douglas, Arizona to obtain methamphetamine. Gonzalez testified that after he fell asleep, he felt a taser[2] on his neck. Begay and Meyers then handcuffed him, shackled his legs, duct-taped his hands, feet, and face, and shoved him into the car's trunk.

         Begay and Meyers drove to a Safeway outside Bisbee, Arizona to meet Carpenter and Velazquez. While Meyers kept watch in the car, Carpenter, Velazquez, and Begay entered the store, where Carpenter bought water, candy, and duct tape. Carpenter decided that the group needed to leave the Safeway parking lot, and they drove to the home of her friend, Keri Hall. At Hall's house, the codefendants waited to hear from the cartel, and smoked methamphetamine. Meanwhile, Gonzalez remained bound in the trunk. When the codefendants learned that the cartel members could no longer meet them on the American side of the border, Carpenter volunteered to take Gonzalez to Mexico. She drove him, still in the trunk, through the Naco, Arizona port of entry. Just across the border, Gonzalez found the trunk latch, opened the trunk, yelled for help, and managed to exit the trunk. Carpenter accelerated away, ditched her car, and then attempted to reenter the United States on foot.

         At the border, federal agents arrested Carpenter on kidnapping-related charges. A two-count indictment was later filed charging all four codefendants-Carpenter, Velazquez, Begay, and Meyers-with conspiracy to kidnap, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1) and (c), and kidnapping, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1).

         Meyers and Begay pleaded guilty, while Carpenter and Velazquez proceeded to trial. Prior to trial, Carpenter submitted an offer of proof of her duress defense, and the district court concluded that she could present the defense. After a five-day trial, the jury found Carpenter and Velazquez guilty of both charges. Carpenter received a sentence of two concurrent terms of 168 months' imprisonment. Velazquez was sentenced to two concurrent ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.