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United States v. Dutton

United States District Court, Tenth Circuit

July 31, 2013

The United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Alfred C. Dutton, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. THOMAS MARTEN, JUDGE

The court has before it defendant Alfred Dutton’s Motion for Judgment of Acquittal (Dkt. 122). The court denies the Motion for the following reasons.

I. Background

On September 14, 2011, the grand jury returned a one count indictment charging Dutton with the unlawful possession of destructive devices, specifically that he possessed “one or more grenade bodies and the necessary combination of parts either designed or intended for use in converting any device into a destructive device.” Dkt. 24. Trial of this matter commenced on July 16, 2013, with the government resting on July 17, 2013, after which Dutton presented his evidence. The jury was duly instructed by the court on the law of the matter. On July 18, 2013, a verdict of guilty was returned, finding Dutton guilty of the offense charged.

Dutton filed this motion on July 22, 2013, well within the fourteen-day deadline set out in Fed. R. Crim. P. 29(c), arguing that the court should enter a judgment of acquittal based on an insufficiency of evidence.

II. Legal Standard:

“In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence in a criminal case, the evidence— both direct and circumstantial, together with reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom—is sufficient if, when taken in the light most favorable to the government, a reasonable jury could find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” United States v. Morales, 108 F.3d 1213, 1221 (10th Cir. 1997) (citing United States v. Sanders, 929 F.2d 1466, 1470 (10th Cir. 1991)). “The evidence presented to support a conviction must be substantial; it must do more than raise a mere suspicion of guilt.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). A conviction should be reversed only when “no reasonable juror could have reached the disputed verdict.” United States v. Carter, 130 F.3d 1432, 1439 (10th Cir. 1997) (citation omitted).

III. Analysis

The jury in this case convicted Dutton of possessing one or more grenade bodies and the necessary combination of parts either designed or intended for use in converting any device into a destructive device, in violation of 26 U.S.C. §§ 5841, 5845(a), 5845(f), and 5861(d), with reference to § 5871. The court instructed the jury that a destructive device was:

1) A grenade or
2) Any combination of parts either designed or intended for use in converting any device into a grenade and from which a grenade may be readily assembled.

See Dkt. 116, Jury Instruction Number 13. The court further instructed the jury that in order to find the defendant guilty, the government had to prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

First: the defendant knowingly possessed one or more destructive devices;
Second: the defendant knew of the specific characteristics or features of the destructive devices that caused them to be registerable under the National ...

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