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United States v. Arnold

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

August 13, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
BILLY ARNOLD, D-1, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DECLARE THE FEDERAL DEATH PENALTY ACT UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND TO STRIKE THE NOTICE OF INTENT [ECF NO. 1398]

          GEORGE CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on defendant Billy Arnold's motion to declare the Federal Death Penalty Act unconstitutional and to strike the notice of intent to seek the death penalty. ECF No. 1398. The government filed a response brief, ECF No. 1424, and defendant did not file a reply. Neither party has requested oral argument or an evidentiary hearing and the court agrees that the motion can be resolved on the briefs. For the reasons stated below, the court denies defendant's motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On January 3, 2018, a federal grand jury returned a sixth superseding indictment charging 21 defendants with various crimes, including violating the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq. Defendant Arnold is charged with two counts of murder in aid of racketeering, two counts of using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death, RICO conspiracy, numerous VICAR counts, possession of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence (RICO conspiracy), and felon in possession of a firearm. ECF No. 812. On January 8, 2018, the government filed its notice of intent to seek the death penalty against Arnold. ECF No. 817.

         The sixth superseding indictment also includes a Notice of Special Findings found by the grand jury:

2. As to Counts 4, 5, 16, and 17, the defendant BILLY ARNOLD:
(a) was 18 years of age or older at the time of the offenses alleged in Counts 4, 5, 16, and 17;
(b) intentionally killed D.P. (Counts 4 and 5) and D.R.-1 (Counts 16 and 17) (18 U.S.C. § 3591 (a)(2)(A));
(c) intentionally inflicted serious bodily injury that resulted in the death of D.P. (Counts 4 and 5) and D.R.-1 (Counts 16 and 17) (18 U.S.C. § 3591 (a)(2)(B));
(d) intentionally participated in an act, contemplating that the life of a person would be taken or intending that lethal force would be used in connection with a person, other than one of the participants in the offense, and D.P. (Counts 4 and 5) and D.R.-1 (Counts 16 and 17) died as a direct result of these acts (18 U.S.C. § 3591 (a)(2)(C));
(e) intentionally and specifically engaged in an act of violence, knowing that the act created a grave risk of death to a person, other than one of the participants in the offense, such that the participation in the act constituted a reckless disregard for human life and D.P. (counts 4 and 5) and D.R.-1 (Counts 16 and 17) died as a direct result of the act (18 U.S.C. § 3591 (a)(2)(D));
(f) committed the offenses alleged in Counts 4, 5, 16, and 17 after having been previously convicted of a Federal or State offense punishable by a term of imprisonment of more than 1 year, involving the use or attempted or threatened use of a firearm (as defined in section 921) against another person (18 U.S.C. § 3592(c)(2));
(g) in committing the offenses in Counts 4, 5, 16, and 17, knowingly created a grave risk of death to 1 or more persons in addition to D.P. (counts 4 and 5) and D.R.-1 (Counts 16 and 17);
(h) committed the offenses alleged in Counts 16 and 17 after substantial planning and premeditation to cause the death of a person (18 U.S.C. § 3592(c)(9)); and
(i) in committing the offenses in Counts 4, 5, 16, and 17, intentionally killed and attempted to kill more than one person in a single criminal episode ...

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