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United States v. Belcher

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

August 9, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
D-2 DEAUNTA BELCHER Defendant,

          AVERN COHN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. BACKGROUND

         This is 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. § 846,
3. Use of a Firearm During and in Relation to a Drug Trafficking Crime Causing Death, 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c), (j),
4. Misleading Communication to Hinder Investigation of a Federal Offense, 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(3).

         At 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.

         II. EVIDENCE AT TRIAL

         The government's evidence at trial consisted of, among other things, lay witness testimony, expert testimony, and a surveillance video.

         The 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.

         The 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 activities.

         The 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.

         Lastly, the government introduced evidence that showed Belcher had made false statements to government ...


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