United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION IN
LIMINE TO OBJECT TO TESTIMONY OR VIDEO OF GOVERNMENT'S
DEMONSTRATIVE EXPERIMENT [ECF NO. 19]
V. PARKER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Derrick Alonzo Mayfield (“Plaintiff”) has been
charged with one count of being a convicted felon in
possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
922(g). Presently before the Court is Defendant's motion
in limine to exclude the admission of a
demonstrative video created by the Government. (ECF No. 19.)
The motion has been fully briefed. Finding the facts and
legal arguments sufficiently presented in the parties'
briefs, the Court dispensed with oral argument pursuant to
Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f) on July 19,
2017. For the reasons that follow, the Court is granting
Defendant's motion to exclude the demonstrative video.
December 11, 2016, Michigan State Police Troopers Pat
Barrigar and Tarzza Williams responded to a 911 call at
approximately 2:00am which referenced a man with a gun at the
Clovertree Apartments in Flint, Michigan. (ECF No. 1 at Pg ID
2.) According to the affidavit in support of the criminal
complaint, the caller stated the suspect was in a white
Cadillac. (Id.) While traveling west bound near the
intersection of the apartment complex, Trooper Barrigar saw a
white Cadillac “pull out into the roadway from the
apartment complex at a high rate of speed without
stopping.” (Id.) The Cadillac passed the
troopers, who were in a fully marked patrol vehicle.
(Id.) The troopers noted that the driver's side
window of the vehicle was rolled down. (Id.)
Cadillac then turned northbound onto Ryan Street.
(Id.) The troopers located the vehicle on Ryan
Street, operating without its headlights on and traveling at
50 miles per hour; 25 miles per hour above the speed limit.
(Id.) According to the affidavit, the Cadillac came
to a stop after seeing a second Michigan State Police marked
patrol car. (Id.) The Cadillac parked near the
intersection of Ryan and Corunna streets. (Id.)
driver identified himself as Plaintiff. (Id.) The
passenger seat was occupied by a woman named Simone
Spottsville. (Id.) The troopers then walked the path
the vehicle had traveled to see if any objects were thrown
from the vehicle while the window was rolled down.
(Id.) On the path, the troopers located a
black-colored .25 caliber pistol lying on top of the snow.
The troopers described the gun as “warm and dry to the
touch even though it had been snowing throughout the
night.” (Id. at Pg ID 2-3.)
informed the troopers that they had left Mayfield's home
because of a woman named Lisa who would not leave his home.
(Id. at Pg ID 3.) Spottsville stated she did not see
a gun, but she saw him roll down the window and make “a
fast movement as if he as throwing something out the
Government intends to introduce a demonstrative video
recreating the events of the evening. However, Defendant
notes there are a number of differences between the video,
and the facts from the police report and affidavit discussing
the events. First, the demonstrative video was filmed during
the daytime when it was not snowing. (ECF No. 19 at Pg ID
40.) Second, the car that is driven in the demonstrative is
not a Cadillac. (Id.) Third, the car that is driven
by the individual portraying Plaintiff and the car that is
driven by the individual recording the video appear to be
following the 25 mph speed limit. (Id.) Defendant
does acknowledge at least one similarity: the cars in the
demonstrative video follow the route that Plaintiff is
claimed to have followed. (Id.)
Applicable Law & Analysis
district court has broad discretion in determinations of
admissibility. Tompkin v. Philip Morris USA, Inc.,
362 F.3d 882, 897 (6th Cir. 2004). The Sixth Circuit has held
that “[e]xperimental evidence is admissible so long as
the evidence is relevant and probative, and experimental
evidence is deemed to have probative value if the conditions
of the experiment were identical with or similar to the
conditions of the transaction in litigation.” U.S.
v. Baldwin, 418 F.3d 575, 579-80 (6th Cir. 2005)
(quoting Crown Cork & Seal Co. v. Morton Pharm.,
Inc., 417 F.2d 921, 926 (6th Cir. 1969)). Courts can
properly admit experimental evidence if “the tests were
conducted under conditions substantially similar to the
actual conditions.” Persian Galleries, Inc. v.
Transcon. Ins. Co., 38 F.3d 253, 258 (6th Cir. 1994)
(citing Randall v. Warnaco, Inc., 677 F.2d 1226,
1233-34 (8th Cir. 1982)). However, admissibility “does
not depend on perfect identity between actual and
experimental conditions. Ordinarily, dissimilarities affect
the weight of the evidence, not its admissibility.”
Persian Galleries, the defendant challenged the
admissibility of a videotape reenactment of a theft.
Id. In his challenge, defendant argued that the
reenactment included tape to stabilize glass in a door frame,
which was not present during the alleged robbery.
Id. Because there was no tape on the door frame
during the alleged theft, defendant contended that there
would have been glass fragments that would have fallen from
the frame and slowed down the robbery. Id. The Sixth
Circuit found that this one different was insufficient to
negate the similarities between the case, and upheld the
admissibility of the videotape reenactment. Id.
contrast, the Sixth Circuit in Baldwin found that
the demonstrative video was “less similar to the events
that it purport[ed] to reenact.” Baldwin, 418
F.3d at 580. In Baldwin, defendant was accused of
faking his own kidnapping. Id. at 576. The
Government claimed that during the FBI's interview of
defendant, a FBI agent asked defendant if he was able to
urinate while kidnapped with his hands bound. Id.
Defendant stated he was indeed able to, and was then asked to
show the FBI agent how he unzipped his pants. Id.
According to the FBI agent, defendant was unable to
“get his hands anywhere near his zipper.”
Id. Because he was unable to reenact unzipping his
pants during the interview, the FBI agent accused defendant
of staging his kidnapping. Id.
his jury trial, the defendant tried to introduce a video
reenactment of his version of the kidnapping. In particular,
defendant wanted to show a video that demonstrated he was
able to unzip his pants to urinate while his hands were
bound. Id. at 575. In the video reenactment,
defendant's “wrists were tied and he was placed in
the backseat of a car, as he said he had been when he had to
urinate, and he successfully unzipped his pants.”
Id. at 578. The government objected to its admission
for the following reasons: (1) defendant was in a different
car model in the reenactment; (2) there were no knots in the
rope used in the video, unlike the rope found in
defendant's car; and (3) the rope was allegedly tied in a
different place on his wrists. Id. The district
court excluded the video, stating that it was a
“demonstration [not] taken under the same
circumstances.” Id. at 579.
Sixth Circuit found that “the conditions in the video
could have matched more closely those of the alleged
kidnapping, and therefore been more probative.”
Id. at 580. The Sixth Circuit then affirmed ...