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United States v. Myles

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division

March 29, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Ronald R. Myles, Jr., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JACK ZOUHARY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Introduction

         On February 16, 2017, a jury convicted Defendant pro se Ronald Myles of two counts of bank robbery with a dangerous weapon under 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) & (d). Two weeks later, Myles timely moved for acquittal under Federal Criminal Rule 29 (Doc. 61), based on his belief that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to sustain his conviction. Specifically, Myles argues (1) the Government failed to present evidence sufficient to identify him as the bank robber; (2) the evidence seized from Myles' hotel room was mishandled; (3) this Court's answer to a jury question was inaccurate or misleading; and (4) his prosecution violated the statute of limitations and the deadlines provided in 18 U.S.C. § 3161(b). The Government responded (Doc. 63), and the matter is fully briefed.

         Background

         On June 4, 2016, a tall, thin black male with a bandana over his face robbed the Commercial Savings Bank on Barks Road in Marion, Ohio. The robber wore dark clothing and two-toned, white-soled shoes. He brandished a firearm, swore at bank employees, and threatened that he would shoot them if they did not open their teller drawers. The robber jumped over the counter to grab the money -- nearly $7, 000 -- out of the drawers before fleeing in a black Mercedes. The police began an investigation, and the Marion Municipal Court issued a warrant for Myles' arrest on June 6.

         On June 17, a tall, thin black male with a bandana over his face robbed the Commercial Savings Bank on Jamesway Drive in Marion. The robber wore dark clothing and bright white sneakers. As in the June 4 robbery, he brandished a firearm, swore at bank employees, threatened them, and jumped over the counter to grab the money -- this time nearly $140, 000 -- out of both the teller drawers and the bank vault. The robber fled in a vehicle described as a silver or white sedan, possibly a Mercedes, with the license plate and headlights obscured. Myles was arrested later that day at a Days Inn in Dayton. Police obtained a search warrant for his hotel room and vehicle, and they discovered a duffel bag containing $136, 500 in cash, as well as other evidence presented at trial.

         Myles was originally indicted on state charges by a Marion County grand jury on June 30. The state charges were dismissed following his federal indictment on one count of bank robbery with a dangerous weapon under 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) & (d) for the June 17 robbery (Doc. 8). The Government later filed a Superseding Indictment charging Myles with a second count of bank robbery with a dangerous weapon for the June 4 robbery (Doc. 39). Myles elected to represent himself pro se, with the assistance of stand-by counsel (Doc. 23). His pretrial Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 25) on jurisdictional and speedy trial grounds was denied (Doc. 36).

         Legal Standard

         In evaluating motions under Federal Criminal Rule 29, this Court asks “whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.” Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979) (emphasis in original); see also United States v. Coleman, 458 F.3d 453, 456 (6th Cir. 2006). This Court does “not reweigh the evidence, reevaluate the credibility of witnesses, or substitute [its] legal judgment for that of the jury, ” United States v. Martinez, 430 F.3d 317, 330 (6th Cir. 2005), but rather “gives the prosecution the benefit of all reasonable inferences from the testimony.” United States v. Abboud, 438 F.3d 554, 589 (6th Cir. 2006). There is a “strong presumption in favor of sustaining a jury conviction, ” United States v. Peters, 15 F.3d 540, 544 (6th Cir. 1994), and a defendant seeking judicial reversal of a jury verdict bears a “very heavy burden.” Abboud, 438 F.3d at 589; see also United States v. Stone, 748 F.2d 361, 363 (6th Cir. 1984) (holding reversal of jury verdict is only appropriate when “not supported by substantial and competent evidence upon the record as a whole”). In short, granting Rule 29 motions should be “confined to cases where the prosecution's failure is clear.” Burke v. United States, 437 U.S. 1, 17 (1978).

         Discussion

         Evidence of Identity of the Bank Robber

         Myles notes that none of the Government's witnesses identified him as the individual who robbed the Commercial Savings Banks on Barks Road and Jamesway Drive -- which is unsurprising, as the bank robber wore a mask. Myles argues that without an affirmative eyewitness identification, his conviction cannot stand. This argument fails, for sufficient other evidence supports the jury's findings. The Government introduced the following circumstantial evidence of the identity of the bank robber:

• Myles matched the robber's general physical appearance, as captured by bank surveillance. Both were tall black males with a trim build, short hair, and a tattoo on the right side of the neck (Trial Exs. 134-35).
• Myles had the same clothing as the robber, including two-toned, white-soled shoes matching the ones worn by the robber on June 4 (Trial Exs. 1, 64, 74-80), and bright white sneakers like those worn by the robber on June 17 (Trial Exs. 3, 57, 81-86, 151-53). Myles also possessed a backpack with the same multicolored ...

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