153 F.3d 1233 (11th Cir. 1998), 95-4427, United States v. Veal

Docket Nº:95-4427.
Citation:153 F.3d 1233
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Nathaniel VEAL, Jr., Andy Watson, Pablo Camacho, Charlie Haynes, Jr., Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:September 04, 1998
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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153 F.3d 1233 (11th Cir. 1998)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Nathaniel VEAL, Jr., Andy Watson, Pablo Camacho, Charlie

Haynes, Jr., Defendants-Appellants.

No. 95-4427.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

September 4, 1998

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Roy J. Kahn, Miami, FL, for Veal.

Paul M. Rashkind, Asst. Fed. Pub. Defender, Hugo Rodriguez, Miami, FL, Allison Marie Igoe, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, for Watson.

Milton Hirsch, Miami, FL, for Camacho.

John E. Bergendahl, Bergendahl & Rosenthal, P.A., Miami, FL, for Haynes.

Kendall Coffey, U.S. Atty., Dawn Bowen and Adalberto Jordan, Asst. U.S. Attys., Miami, FL, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Before ANDERSON and BIRCH, Circuit Judges, and WOODS [*], Senior District Judge.

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BIRCH, Circuit Judge:

These consolidated appeals from convictions of police officers under 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(3) for providing false and misleading information concerning the death of a drug dealer to state investigators present the issue of whether statements suppressed in a prior civil rights trial pursuant to Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493, 87 S.Ct. 616, 17 L.Ed.2d 562 (1967), 1 can be admitted in a subsequent obstruction of justice trial. The police officers also challenge the district judge's denial of their motions to dismiss, statutory interpretation, and jury instructions as well as the sufficiency of the evidence supporting their convictions. We affirm.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On Friday, December 16, 1988, defendants-appellants Nathaniel Veal, Jr., Andy Watson, Pablo Camacho, and Charlie Haynes, Jr., as well as Ronald Sinclair and Thomas Trujillo were members of the Street Narcotics Unit ("SNU") of the Miami Police Department. According to trial testimony, before the 4:00 P.M. roll call on that day, the Chief of Police received a letter in which an anonymous informant reported that unidentified drug dealers had met at 7th Avenue and 32nd Street, NW, in Miami and had contracted to kill Camacho. The SNU members were aware that this address was the residence of Leonardo Mercado, a drug dealer. Camacho, Veal, Watson and Haynes were told of the death threat.

En route to a sting operation at the proximate location of 7th Avenue and 57th Street, NW, Camacho and Watson, Veal and Haynes, and Sinclair and Trujillo, proceeding in three undercover vehicles, stopped at Mercado's house and exited their vehicles. Camacho approached Mercado, who was outside, put his hand on Mercado's shoulder, and escorted him into his house. In the next few minutes, the other officers entered the house, closed the door, and lowered the curtains. Shortly thereafter, police cars and a fire/rescue unit with emergency medical treatment arrived in response to calls for assistance from Sinclair and Camacho.

When Officer Mary Reed of the Miami Police Department arrived and entered the house, she saw Camacho, Veal, Haynes and Sinclair and a bloody Mercado lying on the floor moaning. Haynes pointed to Mercado and informed Reed that he was "the mother fucker that put a contract out on Camacho." Supp.R8-22. The officers urged Reed to "get [her] kick in," id. at 23, but she declined because "[h]e was in bad shape," id. at 24. Despite emergency medical efforts, Mercado, who had suffered extensive head trauma and a severely bruised chest, died at the scene. A subsequent autopsy revealed multiple bruises and bloody wounds to his head, scalp, neck, and face as well as fractured ribs.

Knowing that Mercado was dead, Camacho, Veal, Watson, Haynes, and other SNU officers left the scene and returned to the police department. Various eyewitnesses testified that they saw Camacho, Veal, Watson, Haynes, Sinclair and Trujillo when they returned to the police station, entered the lieutenant's office, and closed the door. Although none of these individuals had noticed anything unusual about Camacho's appearance when he entered the lieutenant's office, the witnesses saw a rip in the front, chest area of his shirt and on the sleeve when he left that office. While inside the SNU lieutenant's office, one of the officers took pictures of Camacho that purportedly reflected his condition after the altercation with Mercado. These photographs, showing a long rip in the front of Camacho's shirt, which also was missing a pocket, were placed in the lieutenant's cabinet together with a butcher knife, supposedly retrieved from the altercation scene, and a bag of crack cocaine allegedly seized from Mercado.

At 7:55 P.M. that evening, Camacho went to the office of crime-scene technician Sylvia Romans, who photographed arrestees and/or

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officers involved in "control" situations, when an officer used more than normal force in making an arrest. Camacho asked Romans to photograph him to show his clothing and injuries. Romans complied and her photographs reveal a large tear in the front of Camacho's shirt, the pocket missing, and a long rip in the back of his right shirt sleeve. Romans noticed that Camacho had no cuts and was not bleeding anywhere but that his right eye was bruised.

A freelance photographer took random photographs at the Mercado residence after the altercation. One photograph showed Camacho at the doorway of Mercado's residence; his shirt was undamaged with no tear in the front, and the pocket was intact. The same freelance photographer came to the SNU office and took additional photographs of Camacho that showed a large rip in the front of his shirt that had been taped together and that the pocket was missing. When Camacho went to Romans's office a short time later to have her photograph him, the tape had been removed, the rips to his shirt were exposed, and there was no pocket on his shirt. Two visiting Detroit police officers accompanied the SNU lieutenant to Mercado's house. One testified that she saw an officer leaving the house with a rusty butcher knife. She saw a similar knife on the table in the lieutenant's office when the officers left that office.

At trial, an expert in fiber analysis was asked whether the tears to Camacho's shirt resulted from knife cuts or a tear. The expert testified that a mechanical object had been used to make a half-inch cut to the front of the shirt and that the shirt then had been ripped causing a fifteen-inch tear. The damage to the right sleeve also was consistent with the shirt having been cut with a mechanical object and then torn. Similarly, the damage to the pocket area was consistent with the pocket having been cut and then torn from the shirt.

Camacho later was treated at a hospital for elevated blood pressure and swelling; none of the other officers had any injuries. In the hours following Mercado's death, Miami homicide investigators were advised that Camacho had been involved in the altercation with Mercado but that Veal, Watson, Haynes and Sinclair had not. In the early morning hours of December 17, 1988, Veal, Watson, Haynes and Sinclair gave statements to state homicide investigators regarding their knowledge of the circumstances surrounding Mercado's death. Each asserted that the officers had stopped at Mercado's house because Camacho had seen some drug activity there that justified investigation and not because of the death threat to Camacho. Each denied having physical contact with Mercado or having heard or seen anything that would explain or assist the investigators in determining how Mercado's injuries had occurred. They stated that, by the time that they were inside the house, the altercation was over and Mercado was on the floor. Veal, Watson and Haynes also denied meeting with Camacho at the SNU office.

During trial, an expert in forensic serology and blood-stain-pattern interpretation compared the blood stains on Mercado to the blood stains on the clothing and shoes worn by Camacho, Veal, Watson and Haynes on December 16, 1988. Thus, he reconstructed who had come into contact with Mercado and the amount of force used during these contacts. The expert found that Veal's pants and shoes were covered with blood stains of Mercado's type. The blood spatter on Veal's pants and shoes was consistent with Veal's having struck Mercado multiple times using medium to medium-high force. The back of Veal's right shoe had a pattern consistent with having been stamped into Mercado's head multiple times. Additionally, shoe patterns on the seat and ankle areas of Mercado's pants matched Veal's right shoe.

Similarly, Watson's pants were blood-stained inside the cuffs and all the way up to the lap and pocket areas. The blood spatter on Watson's pants and sneakers was consistent with his having been within two to three feet of a direct impact to Mercado of medium to medium-high force. The location of the blood on Watson's pants and the spatter of Mercado's blood on two walls in the corner of the room above the bed was consistent with Watson's having been in the immediate vicinity of a direct blow to Mercado's head while Mercado was in an upright position in the corner of the room near the bed and not after Mercado was on the floor. A criminology

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expert in latent prints also testified that Watson's right shoe was consistent with several of Mercado's wounds and that his shoes were consistent with injuries in two different areas of one wound, which showed two points of contact. Another smaller wound matched the forward part of Watson's right shoe, and a third wound also matched Watson's shoe.

Haynes's left shoe had blood on it, and his shirt had one blood spot. His pants, however, had no blood stains because he had laundered his pants and shoe laces before being asked to surrender them. A criminology expert testified that the wounds on Mercado's forehead and left cheek near his eye matched Haynes's left shoe and were consistent with a single...

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