The indictment alleged that defendant "intentionally caused the
deaths" of both her husband and the paramour and then
fraudulently concealed her role in their murders from insurance
The court first concluded, as to all counts, that the evidence
supported the jury's finding that she intended to deprive the
insurance companies of their "money" and "property" by means of
a fraudulent scheme.
Second, it determined that the evidence was sufficient to prove
that she intended to defraud an insurer and thus sufficient to
support her conviction on Counts One through Four.
Third, it held that the district court did not abuse its
discretion in permitting the Government to reopen its
case-in-chief for the limited purpose of presenting testimony
from a witness establishing that he mailed the pleadings
specified in Counts Seven and Eight.
Fourth, the district court did not abuse its discretion in
admitting certain testimony.
Next, the court determined that her sentence was increased based
upon a factual finding that the jury was not required to make.
It concluded that the district court committed an error that was
plain and that affected defendant's substantial rights.
District Court Admitted the Following Out of Court Statements
Robert Gray's criminal complaint alleging that Goode had tossed
a 9-millimeter handgun on the table at his house to provoke an
Robert Gray's criminal complaint alleging that Gray had tried to
stab him with a knife and attack him with a club;
Statements made by Robert Gray to Darnell Gray and a police
detective, claiming that Gray and Goode had assaulted him in
October 1990; and
Statements made by Robert Gray to Rodney Gray claiming that
Goode had pulled a gun on him outside a restaurant in September
or October 1990.
The doctrine of forfeiture by wrongdoing
Allows such statements to be admitted where the
defendant's own misconduct
rendered the declarant unavailable as a witness at trial.
Reynolds v. United States
"The Constitution gives the accused the right to a trial at
which he should be confronted with the witnesses against him;
but if a witness is absent by [the accused's] own wrongful
procurement, he cannot complain if competent evidence is
admitted to supply the place of that which he has kept away.
Forfeiture-by-wrongdoing exception elements
The district court must find, by the preponderance of the
The defendant engaged or acquiesced in wrongdoing
That was intended to render the declarant unavailable as a
That did, in fact, render the declarant unavailable as a
The district court need not hold an
independent evidentiary hearing if the requisite
findings may be made based upon
evidence presented in the course of the trial
Gray Contends - Rule 804(b)(6) should not apply
She did not intend to procure Robert Gray's unavailability as a
witness at this trial.
Only requires that the Df intended to render the declarant
The text of Rule 804(b)(6) requires only that the defendant
intend to render the declarant unavailable "as a witness."
Does Not Require
The text does not require that the declarant would otherwise be
a witness at any particular trial, nor does it limit the subject
matter of admissible statements to events distinct from the
events at issue in the trial in which the statements are
Applies whenever the defendant's wrongdoing was intended and
Thus, we conclude that Rule 804(b)(6) applies whenever the
defendant's wrongdoing was intended to, and did, render the
declarant unavailable as a witness against the defendant,
without regard to the nature of the charges at the trial in
which the declarant's statements are offered.
Defendant need ONLY intend in part to procure the
the declarant was only a potential
person who participated in a
conspiracy to silence the declarant even if that
person did not himself engage in
witness intimidation or other wrongdoing
that "any significant interference" with the declarant's
appearance as a witness, including the exercise of "persuasion
and control" or an instruction to
invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege,
amounts to wrongdoing that forfeits the defendant's right to
confront the declarant.
Forfeits the right to exclude
defendant who wrongfully and intentionally renders a declarant
unavailable as a witness in any
proceeding forfeits the right to exclude, on hearsay grounds,
the declarant's statements at that proceeding and any subsequent