United States v. Lloyd, 042016 FED4, 15-4272

Docket Nº:15-4272
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee, v. BERNARDO AUGUSTINE LLOYD, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:Jennifer L. Mayer, Richard Alan Finci, HOULON, BERMAN, FINCI, LEVENSTEIN & SKOK, LLC, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellant. Sujit Raman, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellee. Rod J. Rosenstein, United States Attorney, Hollis Raphael Weisman, Assistant United State...
Judge Panel:Before MOTZ, GREGORY, and THACKER, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:April 20, 2016
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
 
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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,

v.

BERNARDO AUGUSTINE LLOYD, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 15-4272

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

April 20, 2016

UNPUBLISHED

Argued: March 1, 2016

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Greenbelt. Roger W. Titus, Senior District Judge. (8:12-cr-00354-RWT-1)

ARGUED:

Jennifer L. Mayer, Richard Alan Finci, HOULON, BERMAN, FINCI, LEVENSTEIN & SKOK, LLC, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellant.

Sujit Raman, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Rod J. Rosenstein, United States Attorney, Hollis Raphael Weisman, Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellee.

Before MOTZ, GREGORY, and THACKER, Circuit Judges.

Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion.

Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.

PER CURIAM

Bernardo Lloyd ("Appellant") was speeding and zigzagging through traffic on the Baltimore-Washington National Parkway ("Parkway") when his Lexus sedan struck the back of a pickup truck being driven by Juan Lopez Sanchez. The truck flipped and careened off the Parkway. Sanchez died at the scene. On June 25, 2012, a grand jury indicted Appellant for involuntary manslaughter. He was not arrested until 15 months later, on September 23, 2013. Eventually, his case proceeded to trial and a jury found him guilty. Appellant maintains that the 15-month delay between indictment and arrest violated his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. He also argues that an expert witness was improperly allowed to testify at trial as to the cause of the accident, and he maintains he was entitled to a sentence reduction because he accepted responsibility for his offense.

We affirm Appellant's conviction and sentence. His Sixth Amendment rights were not violated because the 15-month delay between his indictment and his arrest was not extraordinary and did not impair his defense. We also find ample support for the district court's decision to allow an experienced accident reconstructionist to testify, consistently with the opinion of another expert, about the cause of the accident. And, given Appellant's testimony at trial, during which he did not accept responsibility for the accident but, rather, testified that he was not driving recklessly, we have no quarrel with the district court's decision not to impose a more lenient sentence.

I.

On January 31, 2012, Appellant rear-ended Sanchez's pickup truck. The front end of Appellant's vehicle underrode the pickup with enough force that material from the car's bumper was wrapped around the truck's rear axle. Sanchez's truck flipped off the road. Sanchez was killed.

Police took statements from witnesses at the scene, made measurements of the wreckage, photographed the crash site, and then impounded the two vehicles. About six months later, on June 25, 2012, a grand jury in the District of Maryland issued an indictment charging Appellant with, among other things, involuntary manslaughter in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1112(a).1A warrant for Appellant's arrest issued the following day. However, he was not arrested until September 23, 2013, roughly 15 months later. Appellant raised the issue of the delay soon after being arrested. Just under a year later, he moved to dismiss the indictment, alleging a violation of his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. Specifically, he claimed that, due to the delay, his expert crash reconstructionist, Wendell Cover, had been unable to inspect the wrecked vehicles and, therefore, could not present a theory about the cause of the accident. Although the vehicles had been released from impound and were indeed unavailable, the district court nevertheless denied the motion, reasoning that Appellant's defense would not be impaired.

The ensuing three-day trial focused on the cause of the accident. The evidence showed Appellant was speeding prior to the collision. He testified that he saw a car rapidly approaching in his rearview mirror and, thinking it might be a police cruiser, moved into the right-hand lane. The car, a Nissan, sped by; Appellant pulled in behind the Nissan and hit the gas. At that point, according to Appellant, he was driving fast enough to pass the other cars in the right-hand lane, but not as fast as the Nissan, which quickly disappeared into the distance.

At some point, though, Appellant caught up with the Nissan. Both cars zig-zagged around another driver, Joseph McCann, in short succession: the Nissan passed on McCann's left, straddling two lanes; Appellant's Lexus then zipped by on the right, driving partially on the shoulder. And Appellant himself testified that, shortly before the accident, he saw the Nissan behind him in his side-view mirror.

McCann estimated that Appellant and the driver of the Nissan were traveling over 100 miles per hour. David Feser, an off-duty police officer trained in speed detection, was also on the road that day and testified as a fact witness. He estimated Appellant's Lexus was traveling 90 to 100 miles per hour, characterized Appellant's driving as reckless, and thought it likely the car would be involved in an accident. Unfortunately, he was right.

Two experts testified for the Government. Corporal Charles Russell, an experienced accident reconstructionist, analyzed data from the Lexus' airbag control module, examined photographs and measurements taken at the scene, and reviewed witness statements about the crash. From this information, he extrapolated that Appellant was driving approximately 100 miles per hour before the crash and saw no evidence that Sanchez's actions contributed to the wreck. As a result, Corporal Russell opined, over Appellant's objection, that the single likely cause of the accident...

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