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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit issues one Indiana decision today

In U.S. v. Prieto (ND Ind., Judge Simon), a 27-page opinion, Judge Manion writes:

After a traffic stop, officers found over four kilograms of methamphetamine hidden in the bumpers of the Honda Civic in which the defendants Thomas Prieto and Fernando Sanz (collectively “the appellants”) were traveling. The appellants were both charged with possessing with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of a substance containing methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). After a three-day trial, a jury found Prieto and Sanz guilty. They appeal, alleging a variety of trial errors. We affirm. * * *

The evidence against the appellants was overwhelming. Thus, the district court did not err in briefly admitting Martinez’s stray comments about the appellants’ post- arrest silence. Nor, for the same reason, did it err in admitting Agent Ritchie’s statement about Prieto and Sanz’s possible connection to another drug investigation. The district court also did not abuse its discretion by admitting Nuco’s statements from the jail telephone conversation because the evidence supported the court’s finding that the call was in furtherance of a conspiracy involving Nuco and the appellants. In addition, the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the methamphetamine exhibits because any minor break in the chain of custody went to the weight of the exhibits rather than their admissibility. Finally, since the jury could have inferred the identification of Prieto and Sanz from all the facts and circumstances in evidence, the appellants were not entitled to a mistrial due to the lack of a formal in-court identification. We AFFIRM.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 2, 2008 01:12 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions