from the United States District Court for the District of
Colorado (D.C. No. 1:14-CR-00502-RM-1)
Arceci, Assistant Federal Public Defender (and Virginia L.
Grady, Federal Public Defender, on the briefs), Denver,
Colorado, for Defendant - Appellant.
Murphy, Assistant United States Attorney (and Robert C.
Troyer, United States Attorney, on the brief), Denver,
Colorado, for Plaintiff - Appellee.
BACHARACH, KELLY, and MORITZ, Circuit Judges.
Julia Frias was convicted by a jury of being a felon in
possession of a firearm or ammunition, 18 U.S.C. §
922(g)(1), and sentenced to 45 months' imprisonment and
three years' supervised release, consecutive to a state
sentence. On appeal, Ms. Frias contends that she was denied
her constitutional right to a speedy trial and that the
district court abused its discretion in instructing the jury
on the government's burden of proof and responding to a
jury inquiry. Our jurisdiction arises under 28 U.S.C. §
1291, and we affirm.
October 13, 2014, Ms. Frias was arrested by the Denver police
on a warrant in connection with a murder. Officers located
Ms. Frias at her residence and observed her driving away in a
vehicle. The officers attempted to block the vehicle's
path, but when this failed, a four-minute chase ensued. The
chase concluded when her vehicle crashed into a fence after
being hit by an officer's vehicle. Ms. Frias was arrested
when she ran out of her vehicle. Although officers claimed
not to have seen another passenger, a friend of Ms. Frias,
Melinda Tafoya, testified that she was in Ms. Frias's
vehicle during the chase. According to Ms. Tafoya, she went
unnoticed by the officers because she slipped out of the
vehicle and over a fence while the officers grabbed Ms.
officers later noticed a revolver on the passenger side
floorboard of Ms. Frias's vehicle in addition to two
purses. One of the purses contained items belonging to Ms.
Frias and bullets that fit the revolver. Ms. Frias was
arrested for vehicular eluding, possession of a controlled
substance, and possession of a weapon, and she was placed in
the Denver County Jail.
December 15, 2014, while still in state custody, Ms. Frias
was indicted by a federal grand jury for being a felon in
possession of a firearm. At this point, Ms. Frias was not
aware of the federal indictment, which was sealed pending her
federal court appearance. Thereafter, she was transferred
from the Denver County Jail to the custody of Jefferson
County, where she was charged with first degree murder and
conspiracy to commit first degree murder. Ms. Frias
cooperated with state authorities and testified against her
state codefendants, and on September 24, 2015, she pled
guilty to one count of accessory to murder. See
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-8-105(4). Her plea agreement
provided that her state sentence should run concurrently with
any "potential fed[eral] indictment stemming from [her]
arrest in Denver." 1 R. 35. It also stated that the
district attorney would "agree to reconsider if other
jurisdictions impose[d] [a] consecutive sentence to this
case." Id. at 36. The state court imposed a
December 19, 2016, two years after the federal indictment and
nine months after her state-court sentencing, the federal
government took custody of Ms. Frias and she made her initial
court appearance. Ms. Frias filed a motion to dismiss the
federal indictment, arguing that the delay violated her Sixth
Amendment right to a speedy trial. The district court held a
hearing on the motion on February 3, 2017. Although the court
found three of the four factors under Barker v.
Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972), weighed in favor of a
constitutional violation, it denied the motion to dismiss
because it found a lack of prejudice. Prior to and during
trial, Ms. Frias filed renewed motions to dismiss for
substantially the same reasons, contending that a witness to
the events, Ms. Tafoya, did not remember certain details of
the incident because of the delay. After hearing Ms. Tafoya
testify at trial, the district court again denied the motion
for lack of prejudice.
the trial, the only important and contested factual issue was
whether Ms. Frias possessed the firearm or ammunition found
in her vehicle. During deliberations, the jury asked whether
a defendant's knowledge of the gun and ammunition were
sufficient to violate § 922. The court answered by
referring the jury back to the original instructions, which
contained the correct guidance. The jury ultimately found Ms.
Frias now appeals. She contends that (1) her constitutional
right to a speedy trial was violated, (2) the district court
abused its discretion in failing to adequately respond to the
jury's question during deliberations, and (3) the
district court abused ...