United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING THE GOVERNMENT'S
MOTION TO EXCLUDE ALL E-MAIL AND INSTANT MESSAGE
COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN DEFENDANT AND AV-1 OR OTHERS (DOC.
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Mary Jane Kimberly Johns is accused of kidnapping her former
girlfriend, Laura Westphal, in May 2000; transporting
Westphal across state line and using a firearm in furtherance
of this crime. The Government brought charges of kidnapping
and the use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of
violence in 2000, but defendant absconded during her pretrial
release for 16 years. This case is presently before the Court
on the Government's motion to exclude all e-mail and
instant message communications between defendant and Westphal
or others. (Doc. 53).
has listed 269 messages on their exhibit list. The messages
may be categorized as follows:
• From Janos17@aol.com (Westphal) to Jeepie97@aol.com
(defendant): Exhibits T, U, X;
• From Jeepie97@aol.com (defendant) to Janos17@aol.com
(Westphal): Exhibits Y, Z;
• Between Janos17@aol.com and Third Parties: Exhibits V,
• From Jeepie97@aol.com (defendant) to Jeepie97@aol.com
(defendant): Exhibit AA;
• Between Jeepie97@aol.com (defendant) and Third
Parties: Exhibits BB, CC, DD, EE.
messages date from June 1999 to May 2000. They contain
personal, intimate, and sexual details of the couple's
relationship. The Government challenges their admissibility
on the basis of authenticity, hearsay, relevancy, and
Court heard oral argument on March 13, 2017. As stated on the
record, the Court opined that, given the nature and volume of
the messages, it seemed unlikely that they would be
admissible. The Court acknowledged that the messages may be
used for impeachment, but noted that using a message for
impeachment purposes does not make the document itself
admissible as an exhibit. The Court concluded by stating that
it would render an opinion establishing parameters for the
admissibility of these messages.
and Westphal were in a romantic relationship from the summer
of 1999 through April 2000. They lived in different states
and used AOL instant messaging and e-mail to communicate.
Defendant's AOL account was Jeepie47@aol.com.
Westphal's AOL account was Janos17@aol.com.
their breakup, defendant appeared at Westphal's
parent's home in May 2000. When Westphal returned to the
home, the women departed on a drive to Iowa. The Government
alleges that defendant held Westphal at gunpoint, forcing her
to drive, and holding her hostage for eight days. During this
time, defendant allegedly threatened to kill Westphal and
would not let Westphal out of her sight. Defendant denies the
kidnapping; asserting that Westphal left her home and
traveled with defendant to avoid having her family discover
her same-sex relationship and to ensure that defendant did
not commit suicide.