Sixth Circuit Finds No Error In Knoxville Accessory to Carjacking Case

Sixth Circuit Finds No Error In Knoxville Accessory to Carjacking Case

In this Sixth Circuit case from the Eastern District of Tennessee,  Eric Boyd appeals his jury conviction of being an accessory after the fact to a carjacking and misprision of a carjacking. (Misprision of a felony occurs when a person, “having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to a judge or other authority.) 

This case relates to Boyd's part in the help he rendered to Lamaricus Davidson. Davidson was one of the principal defendants convicted in the brutal rape and murder in Knoxville of Christopher Newsom and his girlfriend, Channon Christian. Boyd was not charged with actually committing the crime of carjacking which resulted in the death and serious bodily injury to another person.  Instead, he was charged with helping someone else try to avoid being arrested, prosecuted or punished for that crime.

Statements made between Davidson and Boyd were introduced at Boyd's trial and are among the things he chiefly complains about on appeal. Prior to his trial, Boyd moved to exclude the portions of his videotaped interview in which he discussed the things Davidson told him about the carjacking, rapes, and murders.  Boyd argued that Davidson’s statements were inadmissible hearsay and violated the Confrontation Clause. Boyd’s recounting of Davidson’s statements presents a double hearsay issue, because it constitutes a statement within a statement.  There is no dispute that Boyd’s statements to police were admissible under the admission by a party-opponent exception. The issue is Davidson's statements.

The Sixth Circuit held that Davidson’s statements to Boyd were properly admitted as non-hearsay offered to prove Boyd’s knowledge of the carjacking and murders.  Both charges against Boyd required the Government to prove that he had knowledge of a crime.  And the Court found that as his state of mind is an element of the offense, this evidence is relevant.

Boyd also argues that the admission of Davidson’s statements violated the Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause because he had no opportunity to confront the witness Davidson. Here, the Court held that the statements are  non-testimonial.  Davidson made the statements to a companion, and a reasonable person in Davidson’s position would not have anticipated the use of the statements in a criminal proceeding like a trial. Lastly, the statements do not trigger the Confrontation Clause because they were offered as non-hearsay.  Sixth Circuit affirms his convictions of 180 months accessory after the fact to a carjacking and 36 months for misprision of a carjacking .


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