United States District Court, E.D. Texas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
A. CRONE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the court is Defendant Jermaine Webster Harris's
(“Harris”) Motion for a Judgment of Acquittal
(#199). Having considered the motion, the submissions of the
parties, the record, and the applicable law, the court is of
the opinion that the motion should be DENIED.
was indicted on February 11, 2016, and again on October 12,
2016, for 17 counts relating to a series of armed home
invasions committed in the Eastern District of Texas: (1) one
count of conspiracy to use or carry a firearm during and in
relation to a crime of violence or to possess a firearm in
furtherance of a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 924(o); (2) one count of conspiracy to commit theft of
firearms, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; (3) one count
of conspiracy to possess stolen firearms, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 371; (4) two counts of carjacking, in violation
of 18 U.S.C. § 2119; (5) two counts of using or carrying
a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence or
possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence,
in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c); (6) five counts of
theft of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(1);
(7) and five counts of possession of a stolen firearm, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(j). Doc. No. 68. A jury
found Harris guilty on all 17 counts of the First Superseding
Indictment on May 25, 2017. Harris filed the instant motion
on June 8, 2017.
of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that
“[a] defendant may move for a judgment of acquittal, or
renew such a motion, within 14 days after a guilty verdict or
after the court discharges the jury, whichever is
later.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 29(c). In considering a motion
for a judgment of acquittal, the court determines
“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.” Jackson v.
Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979) (emphasis in
original); accord Coleman v. Johnson, 566 U.S. 650,
132 S.Ct. 2060, 2064 (2012); United States v.
Terrell, 700 F.3d 755, 760 (5th Cir. 2012);
United States v. Thomas, 690 F.3d 358, 366 (5th
Cir.), cert. denied, 133 S.Ct. 673 (2012).
“The trial court may not substitute its own subjective
interpretation of the evidence for that of the
jury's.” United States v. Varkonyi, 611
F.2d 84, 85 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 446 U.S. 945
(1980) (citing United States v. Burns, 597 F.2d 939,
941 (5th Cir. 1979)). Indeed, the court must “consider
the evidence in the light most favorable to the government,
drawing ‘all reasonable inferences and credibility
choices in support of the verdict.'” United
States v. Demmitt, 706 F.3d 665, 677 (5th Cir. 2013);
accord United States v. Anderson, 559 F.3d 348, 535
(5th Cir.), cert. denied, 557 U.S. 913 (2009).
Moreover, “[t]he evidence need not exclude every
reasonable hypothesis of innocence or be wholly inconsistent
with every conclusion except that of guilty, and the jury is
free to choose among reasonable constructions of the
evidence.” United States v. Lopez, 74 F.3d
575, 577 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 517 U.S. 1228
(1996); accord United States v. Meza, 701 F.3d 411,
418 (5th Cir. 2012). “A court ‘faced with a
record of historical facts that supports conflicting
inferences must presume-even if it does not affirmatively
appear in the record-that the trier of fact resolved any such
conflicts in favor of the prosecution, and must defer to that
resolution.'” United States v.
Vargas-Ocampo, 747 F.3d 299, 301 (5th Cir. 2014) (en
banc) (quoting Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319).
Therefore, “the only question . . . is whether [the
jury's] finding was so insupportable as to fall below the
threshold of bare rationality.” Coleman, 132
S.Ct. at 2065.
asserts that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient
to support any of the 17 counts of which he was convicted.
The Government responds that Harris waived his argument as to
sufficiency of the evidence by not specifying the grounds on
which the argument was based in the motion itself.
Nonetheless, “Rule 29 motions need not be
specific.” United States v. McCall, 553 F.3d
821, 830 (5th Cir. 2008) (citing Huff v. United
States, 273 F.2d 56, 60 (5th Cir. 1959)), cert.
denied, 556 U.S. 1195 (2009). Upon review of the record,
however, the court finds that the evidence presented by the
Government at trial, viewed in the light most favorable to
the Government, was sufficient to support the jury's
verdict of guilty on all 17 counts of the First Superseding
elaborates in his reply that his involvement in the 17 counts
was supported only by the testimony of four of his
co-conspirators, none of whom, according to Harris, were
credible. First, this assertion is inaccurate. The jury in
this case heard evidence not only in the form of testimony
from Harris's co-conspirators but also received other
corroborating evidence, including data about Harris's
cell phone location during the offenses; text and other
electronic communications between Harris and his
co-conspirators while planning the offenses; Harris's
Internet search history wherein he researched wealthy
neighborhoods in the areas in which the offenses were
committed; and, importantly, his instructions to his mother
to dispose of a pair of his boots containing a handgun that
was determined to be stolen from Victor Lauerdorf, a victim
in this case. This handgun was listed in Counts 16 and
17 of the First Superseding Indictment.
although Harris disputes the credibility of his
co-conspirators, the jury was entitled to find-and apparently
did find-these individuals sufficiently credible to convict
Harris based on their testimony. Thus, Harris's motion is
on the foregoing reasoning and analysis, Harris's motion
for a judgment of acquittal (#199) is DENIED.
 Harris's mother, Nancy Jo Russell,
first told investigators that Harris instructed her to throw
away the boots; however, at trial, she testified that Harris
gave the instructions to a third party, who ...