United States v. Snard, 092112 FED3, 10-1717

Docket Nº:10-1717
Opinion Judge:HARDIMAN, Circuit Judge.
Judge Panel:Before: SLOVITER, RENDELL and HARDIMAN, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:September 21, 2012
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit




No. 10-1717

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

September 21, 2012


Submitted Under Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) September 20, 2012

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (D.C. No. 09-cr-00212-001) District Judge: Honorable James Knoll Gardner

Before: SLOVITER, RENDELL and HARDIMAN, Circuit Judges.


HARDIMAN, Circuit Judge.

Timothy Snard appeals his judgment of conviction and sentence after a jury found him guilty of knowingly possessing with the intent to distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), knowingly possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), and knowingly possessing a firearm as a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). We will affirm.


Because we write for the parties, who are well acquainted with the case, we recount only the essential facts and procedural history. The facts adduced at the suppression hearing and trial are not in dispute.


Sade Johnson called the Allentown, Pennsylvania, police and told them that a "wanted" man named "Timothy Snard" or "Victor Brewington" could be found in Room 434 at the Hotel Traylor. She disclosed Snard's date of birth and said he had a gun and drugs. The police ran the information through a database and found an outstanding New York warrant for Victor Brewington, also known as Timothy Snard, whose birthday matched the date provided by Johnson except for the year, which was off by one. The database also provided a physical description of Snard.

Police officers responded to Room 434. Recognizing the possibility that the room's occupant could be armed, one officer attempted to coax Snard out with a ruse. When Snard rebuffed this attempt, the officer identified himself as a police officer and ordered the door open. Snard asked the police for whom they were looking, and the police responded "Timothy Snard." After a moment, Snard opened the door, greeted the officers in his undergarments, and identified himself as "Victor Brennington." Because Snard's appearance was consistent with the database's description, the police placed Snard under arrest and handcuffed him. Snard asked for his pants and moved toward the bed in the back of the room, where he sat down. The officers followed Snard into the room and ordered him back to the door.

The officers then began a protective sweep of the hotel room. They patted the bed and checked the bathroom and closet. One officer provided protective cover as another lifted the mattress and box spring to see if anyone was under the platform-style bed, which sat on an approximately one-foot-high box frame that was recessed eight to twelve inches from the sides of the box spring. As the mattress was raised, a firearm, thirty-nine rocks of crack cocaine, and a bag of marijuana fell from a hole in the box spring. Drug paraphernalia—digital scales, baggies, and a razor blade—was nearby in plain view on the desk and night stand. As Snard got dressed, he told the officers that Johnson was his girlfriend and that they had been living at the hotel for two weeks.


Following his indictment on three firearm and drug offenses, Snard moved to suppress the contraband seized in the hotel room, and the District Court denied the motion. As the trial approached, the parties and the Court agreed to sever the trial on the felon-in-possession count from the trial on the other two counts. On October 19, 2009, the Government filed a motion in limine to introduce evidence of Snard's prior New York state felony drug conviction pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b). Before ruling on the motion, over the next two days, the Court conducted jury selection, during which one potential juror inquired as to whether the charged crimes were Snard's "first offense." The Court refused to answer the question. The jury was empanelled and sworn. The following day, October 22, the Court granted the Government's motion, ruling that evidence of Snard's prior felony drug conviction was admissible on all counts. Therefore, the Court determined that a bifurcated trial was unnecessary.

After the Government rested, Snard moved for a judgment of acquittal, but the Court denied the motion. The jury...

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