United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
COHN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a criminal case involving a murder-for-hire conviction and
related drug offenses. Deaunta Belcher (Belcher) was
convicted by a jury for:
1. Use of Interstate Commerce Facilities in the Commission of
Murder-for-Hire, 18 U.S.C. § 1958,
2. Conspiracy to possess with Intent to Distribute, 21 U.S.C.
3. Use of a Firearm During and in Relation to a Drug
Trafficking Crime Causing Death, 18 U.S.C. §§
4. Misleading Communication to Hinder Investigation of a
Federal Offense, 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(3).
trial, Belcher made an oral Rule 29 motion seeking acquittal.
The Court gave reasons, that were stated on the record, for
why the motion should be denied; but ultimately said it would
take the motion under advisement. For the reasons stated
below, and on the record, the motion is DENIED.
EVIDENCE AT TRIAL
government's evidence at trial consisted of, among other
things, lay witness testimony, expert testimony, and a
surveillance video shows the victim, Devin Wallace, sitting
inside his car, which was parked on a street. A vehicle pulls
alongside Wallace and a masked shooter exits the rear
passenger side of the vehicle. The masked shooter then draws
a pistol and fires multiple shots into Wallace's car,
killing him. The masked shooter gets back into the vehicle
and flees the scene.
government's evidence included witness testimony from
three co-conspirators. Two of the co-conspirators testified
that Watson was the masked shooter on the surveillance video
and that they were in the vehicle that fled the scene at the
time of the shooting. A third co-conspirator present at the
scene during the killing testified that Watson was an
enforcer for Belcher. Multiple witnesses testified that
Belcher hired Watson to kill Wallace. The third
co-conspirator also testified about Belcher's drug
government's expert testified about cell-phone tracking.
By tracking the phone activities of Belcher, Watson, and
co-conspirators, the government's expert was able to
corroborate the lay witness testimony by placing
Belcher's phone in the area at the time of the shooting.
The expert also showed that multiple calls were made to
Watson just before the shooting.
the government introduced evidence that showed Belcher had
made false statements to government ...