United States v. Taylor, No. 15-1764

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
Writing for the CourtTHOMPSON, Circuit Judge.
Citation848 F.3d 476
Parties UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Keyon A. TAYLOR, a/k/a Key, a/k/a Keyon Taylor, Defendant, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 15-1764
Decision Date08 February 2017

848 F.3d 476

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,
Keyon A. TAYLOR, a/k/a Key, a/k/a Keyon Taylor, Defendant, Appellant.

No. 15-1764

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit.

February 8, 2017

Randall E. Kromm , Assistant United States Attorney, and Carmen M. Ortiz , United States Attorney, on brief for Appellee.

Karen A. Pickett and Pickett Law Offices, P.C. , Boston, MA, on brief for Appellant.

Before Thompson and Barron, Circuit Judges, and McConnell, District Judge.*

THOMPSON, Circuit Judge.

Keyon Taylor ("Taylor") shot and beat a postal worker, and then hijacked his truck in a botched robbery scheme. The ordeal finally came to an end when the worker popped the truck's rear gate and jumped out of the moving vehicle to try and save his own skin. Taylor was convicted of multiple federal crimes arising from this episode, then sentenced to just shy of thirty years in prison. Taylor now appeals. We affirm on all points but one: Taylor's Guidelines sentencing range was incorrectly calculated, and so we remand for the limited purpose of permitting the trial court judge to reconsider Taylor's sentence.

The Facts

Taylor raises many challenges to his conviction and sentence on appeal, but the sufficiency of the evidence is not one of them. So, we give a balanced presentation of those facts necessary to understand the parameters of this appeal and our disposal of it. See United States v. Burgos–Montes, 786 F.3d 92, 99 (1st Cir. 2015), cert. denied, ––– U.S. ––––, 136 S.Ct. 599, 193 L.Ed.2d 479 (2015).1 The details of the crime and the police investigation are important to our analysis of Taylor's claims on appeal, so bear with us as we spell them out.

On December 20, 2013, around 6:00 pm, a United States Postal Service letter carrier named Fai Wu was out delivering packages

848 F.3d 482

in Dorchester, Massachusetts. As he walked back to his truck, Wu noticed a white van parked behind his vehicle but paid it no mind. He reentered his truck, and while buckling his seatbelt and preparing to move along for the next delivery, he heard a man say "Give me your wallet." Wu turned to his right, and inside his truck was a masked man wearing a dark colored jacket aiming a revolver straight at his head. Obviously assuming an armed robbery was in progress, Wu got up to hand over his wallet. But, concerned for his safety, he also tried to move the revolver away from his scalp. In the entanglement, the man shot Wu in the wrist and then demanded that Wu disclose the location of the "cash drawer." Postal trucks do not have cash drawers. When Wu explained this reality, the man clocked Wu in the head ten to twenty times with the butt of his gun, then repeated the question: "Where's the drawer?" When Wu could not deliver the sought-after prize, the attacker ordered Wu into the back of the truck and again asked for the cash drawer. When Wu still could not deliver, the assailant attacked Wu by repeatedly kicking him.

Eventually the armed attacker ordered Wu to strip off his uniform, to hand over his truck keys, and not to look at him. The assailant then took the uniform and mopped up some of Wu's blood from the front of the truck before driving it away with Wu still in the back. Wu seized his opportunity to escape when the attacker slowed down to turn a corner: clad only in a sweatshirt, long underwear, and socks, Wu popped the tailgate, jumped off the back of the truck, and hightailed it down the street. As he ran, yelling for help, a still-bleeding Wu spotted the same white van he had previously observed and inadvertently brushed up against it. Wu kept going until he came across a group of pedestrians who called 911.

According to witnesses, the attacker crashed the truck into a snow bank and fled the scene, leaving a visible trail of boot prints and blood behind. Investigators later followed that trail and found, amongst other crime-related items, blood on two chain-link fences; scraps of purple nitrile gloves, including one piece that was stuck to a fence in the blood; and a blood-smeared backyard recycling bin containing Wu's uniform.

After learning of the attack, postal inspectors and police canvassed the area looking for more clues. Witnesses reported that a white U–Haul van was behind the mail truck before and after Wu was attacked. Investigators discovered that a corner market near the crime scene caught the white van on camera: the market's surveillance footage showed the mail truck driving down the block at 5:57 pm, and as soon as the mail truck passed by, a white U–Haul van turned its headlights on and followed the mail truck around the corner and through a red light.

Later in the evening, when postal inspectors were still out pursuing their investigation, they spotted a white cargo U–Haul van fitting witnesses' descriptions a short distance from the kidnapping scene. They followed it to a gas station and within moments noticed two blood smudges on the outside of the van and a purple nitrile glove in a cup holder. The inspectors learned Maurice Gittens was the driver and Kemron Roache the passenger. When asked what he was doing with the van, Gittens told the postal inspectors he was living in it (though the rear compartment was nearly empty). Both men were transported to the police station for questioning. While there, Gittens told the police, in pertinent part, the following: the purple glove was not his, but was left in his car by a man named Kurt (whose last name and whereabouts Gittens did not know); yes, he

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was driving the van that day; at one point he was behind a postal truck and saw a man run from the truck (in the opposite direction of the attacker's flight path); though not positive, he said he picked up Roache around 6:00 pm (shortly before the crime, but two hours before 8:00 pm, the time Roache later claimed Gittens contacted him); and he and Roache drove around together that evening and smoked some marijuana in the park (an alibi).

With his consent, police searched Gittens' phone and found he had called "Cam,"—later determined to be Roache's nickname—around 6:12 pm that night, and that a few minutes later Cam texted "Ima hit you wen to come threw." At 6:31 pm, Cam texted "Where key at." After obtaining a warrant, police searched the van and found several items, including more purple nitrile gloves, an ID card belonging to Sabrina Ramsey—a woman later determined to be Taylor's girlfriend—and a U–Haul rental agreement in the name of "Maurice Williams" but bearing Ramsey's address. When questioned, Ramsey told police that she was with Taylor and Gittens in the white van until 5:00 or 5:30 pm that day, Taylor did not return to her place until 8:00 or 9:00 pm, and Gittens showed up around 4:00 am (after he was questioned) looking for Taylor.

So the police started looking for Taylor, too. In their investigation, they discovered that the then-twenty-year-old suspect worked in an office where purple nitrile gloves were used. They also obtained surveillance footage from the U–Haul rental center showing that Taylor and Gittens rented the white van the day before the attack on Wu. Several days later the police went to Taylor's mother's house, where they found Taylor and other evidence, including a black jacket with a stained sleeve.

DNA testing performed on several seized items showed a lot. Both Taylor and Wu's DNA were found on the black jacket. Wu's uniform retrieved from the recycling bin carried both Wu and Taylor's blood. The blood on the flight path fences and the recycling bin belonged to Taylor. And, the blood on the outside of the white van belonged to Wu.

Court Proceedings

Taylor and Gittens were indicted for (1) conspiracy to rob a postal worker under 18 U.S.C. § 371, (2) assault on a federal employee under 18 U.S.C. §§ 111(a)(1) and (b), (3) robbery and attempted robbery under 18 U.S.C. § 2114(a), (4) kidnapping under 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(5), (5) attempted kidnapping under 18 U.S.C. § 1201(d), and (6) the use of a firearm in connection with a crime of violence—specifically robbery, attempted robbery, kidnapping, and attempted kidnapping—under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Gittens pled guilty before trial to counts 1, 3, and 6, and he was eventually sentenced to ten years' imprisonment.

Taylor opted for trial, wherein he essentially presented a misidentification defense based on how the crime unfolded. As a result of Wu's assailant wearing a mask during the assault and kidnapping, Wu was unable to identify his attacker. Pivoting off this identity problem and trying to sow seeds of reasonable doubt by labeling any evidence of his culpability inconclusive, Taylor argued that Roache better matched Wu's description of the assailant's height and build. And, that fact, coupled with the presence of Roache's fingerprints on the door of the white van and the recovery of Wu's wallet in a neighborhood near Roache's house, meant Roache had to be the person who robbed and shot Wu. To further support his him-not-me theory, Taylor wanted to use the following evidence: (1) a letter from the government

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produced during discovery identifying Roache as an unindicted co-conspirator (we call this "the Roache Letter"), and (2) Gittens' statement...

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103 practice notes
  • United States v. Burris, No. 17-10478
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • June 18, 2018
    ...physical acts may cause physical pain: Curtis Johnson itself suggested that a slap in the face might suffice."); United States v. Taylor , 848 F.3d 476, 494 (1st Cir. 2017) ("If 'a slap in the face' counts as violent force under Johnson because it is 'capable' of causing pain or injury, a '......
  • United States v. Mobley, CASE NO. 12-cr-00235-YGR-1
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • October 1, 2018
    ...("[C]onsistent with recent precedent, a § 111 offense qualifies as a crime of violence under § 924(c)(3)(A)."); United States v. Taylor , 848 F.3d 476, 496 (1st Cir. 2017) ("[T]he enhanced assault conviction under § 111(b) is a crime of violence under the force clause of § 924(c)(3)...."); ......
  • Ovalles v. United States, No. 17-10172
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • October 4, 2018
    ...approach is not a pure judicial creation; rather, it is a judicial explanation of congressional intent.6 See United States v. Taylor , 848 F.3d 476, 491 (1st Cir. 2017) ; United States v. Fuertes , 805 F.3d 485, 498 (4th Cir. 2015) ; United States v. Buck , 847 F.3d 267, 274 (5th Cir. 2017)......
  • Larode v. United States, No. 1:16-cv-741 (LMB)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • January 24, 2019
    ...I to merit reconsideration of those courts' analysis—because 356 F.Supp.3d 572 § 111"is plainly divisible," see United States v. Taylor, 848 F.3d 476, 492 (1st Cir.), cert. denied, ––– U.S. ––––, 137 S.Ct. 2255, 198 L.Ed.2d 689 (2017). Accordingly, the Court may take notice of the fact that......
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105 cases
  • Shea v. United States, No. 17-1899
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • September 28, 2020
    ...focuses on § 2113(a) ... [h]owever, Johnson was not convicted under § 2113(a), but rather § 2113(d) ...."); United States v. Taylor, 848 F.3d 476, 493 (1st Cir. 2017) (analyzing similar challenge to a § 924(c) conviction in light of "the enhancement provisions that applied to Taylor's convi......
  • United States v. Bates, No. 18-12533
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • May 28, 2020
    ...in bodily injury constitutes a crime of violence, as it necessarily requires the use of violent force. See United States v. Taylor , 848 F.3d 476, 494 (1st Cir. 2017) ("If a slap in the face counts as violent force under Johnson because it is capable of causing pain or injury a forcible act......
  • United States v. Tsarnaev, No. 16-6001
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • July 31, 2020
    ...crime is a crime of violence: the "categorical approach" and the "modified categorical approach." See, e.g., United States v. Taylor, 848 F.3d 476, 491-92 (1st Cir. 2017). If the prior crime involved a violation of an "indivisible" statute — i.e. , one that "sets out a single ... set of ele......
  • United States v. Velazquez-Fontanez, s. 18-1188
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • July 27, 2021
    ...violent force is an element of the crime." United States v. Cruz-Rivera, 904 F.3d 63, 66 (1st Cir. 2018) (quoting United States v. Taylor, 848 F.3d 476, 491 (1st Cir. 2017) ). The language of section 36(b)(2)(A)5 easily satisfies 6 F.4th 219 section 924(c)(3)'s elements clause. The act of "......
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2 books & journal articles
  • Misconduct
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Trial Objections
    • May 5, 2022
    ...as attacks upon counsel and references to religion or ethnic background. CASES Attack upon counsel FEDERAL CASES United States v. Taylor , 848 F.3d 476, 488-89 (1st Cir. 2017). Prosecutor did not improperly impugn integrity or institutional role of defense counsel by remarking in closing ar......
  • Summation
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Trial Objections
    • May 5, 2022
    ...court was instructed to permit argument regarding such damages upon retrial. FEDERAL CASES – HARMLESS/NO ERROR United States v. Taylor , 848 F.3d 476, 490 (1st Cir. 2017), cert. denied , 137 S.Ct. 2255 (2017). Prosecutor did not make an improper attack on the integrity or institutional role......

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