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United States v. Lacy

United States District Court, D. Kansas

May 9, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
DAEDERICK LACY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          ERIC F. MELGREN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On February 23, 2017, a jury convicted Defendant Daederick Lacy of one count of sex trafficking of a child, one count of sex trafficking accomplished by force, fraud, or coercion, and one count of transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. Lacy now moves this Court to enter a judgment of acquittal (Doc. 47). For the reasons stated below, the Court denies Lacy's motion.

         I. Discussion

         Under Fed. R. Crim. P. 29(c), a defendant may move the Court to set aside a jury verdict and enter an acquittal. Lacy argues that he is entitled to a judgment of acquittal because there was insufficient evidence presented for each of the three counts to sustain a conviction. In considering a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, the Court must determine whether “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.”[1] The jury may base its verdict on both direct and circumstantial evidence, together with all reasonable inferences that could be drawn therefrom.[2]

         The Court may not “weigh conflicting evidence or consider witness credibility, as that duty is delegated exclusively to the jury.”[3] Instead, the proper inquiry is for the Court to “simply determine whether the evidence, if believed, would establish each element of the crime.”[4] Thus, the Court may only enter a judgment of acquittal if “no rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.”[5]

         A. Sex Trafficking of a Child

         To support a conviction for sex trafficking of a child, the Government must prove:

(1) That the defendant knowingly recruited, enticed, transported, provided, or maintained a minor, whom the defendant knew would be caused to engage in a commercial sex act;
(2) That the defendant:
a. Knew that the minor had not yet attained the age of 18 years; or b. Recklessly disregarded the fact that the minor had not attained the age of 18 years; or c. Had reasonable opportunity to observe the child; and
(3) That the offense was in or affecting interstate commerce.[6]

         Here, the Government offered sufficient evidence pertaining to each element to support Lacy's conviction for sex trafficking of a child. Direct evidence was provided through testimony of B.J., the minor victim, and through Government's Exhibit 7-the Facebook conversation between B.J. and Lacy.

         Regarding the first element, B.J. testified that her first communications with Lacy occurred around November 5th, 2015 after Lacy “in-boxed me on Facebook.” Lacy messaged B.J.: “What's good. You trying to make some [money]?” After they established a relationship, B.J. testified that Lacy began posting advertisements for B.J. on Backpage.com, suggesting that B.J. would perform “sex acts for money.” According to B.J., clients would contact Lacy about the ads, after which Lacy would drive B.J. to the “call.” B.J. testified that she would then perform sex acts in exchange for money, and B.J. would then return to Lacy and give him the money she had received. This evidence is sufficient to establish the first element of the crime.

         Regarding the second element, sufficient evidence was introduced for the jury to find that Lacy knew B.J. had not yet attained the age of 18, and that Lacy had reasonable opportunity to observe B.J. First, B.J. testified that she was 16 at the time she was performing “calls” for Lacy. B.J. testified that while she was doing these “calls” for Lacy, “[a]t first he thought I was 17, and then he found out my real age.” This was reflected in the Facebook messages sent between B.J. and Lacy. She then testified that at one point during their relationship, she logged into Facebook on Lacy's phone, and he read through the messages on her account. While reading through a message chain between B.J. and her sister, Lacy discovered that B.J. was 16. B.J. testified that she and Lacy then had a conversation about her only being 16. The Government then asked: “After he finds out you're 16, are there still dates that occur-or calls that come in that you go and perform sex acts and receive money for?” B.J. answered: “Yes.” Sufficient evidence was therefore presented to establish that Lacy knew B.J. had not yet turned 18. Furthermore, B.J. testified that she had a relationship with Lacy between November 5th, 2015, and December 6th, 2015. This evidence is sufficient for a jury to find that Lacy had reasonable opportunity to observe B.J. Therefore, this evidence is sufficient to establish the second element of the crime.

         Finally, the Government presented sufficient evidence to establish that the offense was in or affecting interstate commerce. The majority of Lacy's communications with B.J. were done through text messages and Facebook.com. And Lacy arranged for B.J. to perform sex acts for money by posting advertisements to Backpage.com. This evidence indicated that Lacy “had utilized facilities of interstate commerce, such as the internet and cellular phones, to engage in sex trafficking.”[7]

         Accordingly, a rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime of sex trafficking of ...


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