United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
DATEEDMUND A. SARGUS, JR. UNITED STATE DISTRICT JUDGE.
action comes before the Court after a bench trial on the
one-count indictment of witness retaliation in violation of
18 U.S.C. § 1513(e) against Defendant Joy McShan Edwards
as well as a Motion for Judgment of Acquittal. For the
reasons that follow, the Court DENIES the
Motion for Judgment of Acquittal and finds the Defendant
Defendant was indicted on August 3, 2017, on one count of
retaliating against a witness in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1513(e). Thereafter, the Defendant and the Government
waived trial by jury. On December 11, 2017, the parties
appeared before the Court for a bench trial.
Government presented three witnesses at the trial, including
United States Marshall Zach Denzler, the Confidential
Informant ("CI 1") affected by Defendant's
social media posts, and DEA Special Agent Matt Heufelder. In
addition, Defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal
pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29.
Findings of Fact
2015, Defendant's two brothers, Frederick and David
McShan were arrest for running a drug trafficking ring in
Steubenville, Ohio. In March of 2017, both brothers were
tried before a jury. See USA v. McShan et al,
2:15-cr-24 (S.D. Ohio). At the trial, several witnesses
testified that Frederick and David McShan traveled to
Illinois to buy heroin for resale in the Ohio Valley.
(Id. ECF No. 328 at 4-8.) Frederick McShan was
convicted by a jury of eleven counts of conspiracy to possess
with the intent to distribute heroin and one count of
conspiracy to commit money laundering. David McShan was
convicted of one count of conspiracy to possess with intent
to distribute heroin and possession with intent to distribute
heroin. At one point during the brothers' trial, the U.S.
Marshalls removed several of Frederick and David McShan's
relatives and friends from the courtroom for illegally video
recording witnesses' pictures and testimony.
aided the Government in the prosecution of the McShan
brothers by serving as confidential informant against the
brothers prior to their arrest and as a witness at the
brothers' trial in Columbus, Ohio for the Government. CI
1 's help included allowing law enforcement to fit him
with electronic equipment that recorded his telephone calls
with Frederick McShan and videotaped any place he went with
McShan brothers, Ms. Edwards, and CI 1 are from Steubenville,
Ohio. Steubenville is located approximately 150 miles from
Columbus, and has an estimated population of 18, 303
residents. Some Steubenville residents were present
at the McShan brothers' trial during CI 1 's
Defendant's Social Media Posts
on May 11, 2017, prior to sentencing of her brothers,
Defendant began posting doctored photos of CI 1, depicting
him on the witness stand and labeling him, among other terms,
as a "snitch." (See Government Exhibits
2-7.)  The first image Ms. Edwards posted
on her Facebook contains a photo of CI I's face cropped
onto a body which sits on a witness stand pointing his
finger, as if at a defendant and includes the caption
"Niggas like you get a Nigga super bowl numbers."
(Gov. Exhibit 2.) The image generated comments, including one
person asking whose photo is in the post and another
commenter responding with CI 1 's nickname.
(Id.) At different points in the comment thread Ms.
Edwards posted additional comments such as "fuck
him!" and "Look at that bitch ass snitch lips! They
are crack up and ashey [sic] white from running it so much!
His bitch ass needs some WD40!" (Id.)
17, 2017, Defendant posted an image to her Facebook account
with a photo of CI 1 cropped on a body of a person holding a
T-shirt with a badge printed on it, and the caption below the
photo stating 'This nigga look like he just snitch for
fun, " with laughing faces and a skull emoji also in the
caption. (Gov, Exhibit 3.) On the same day, Defendant posted
the comment "Snitch (rat image) ass bitch!" with a
photo attached of a person with CI l's face cropped in
wearing a t-shirt with the words "Stop Snitching"
in a stop sign pattern. (Gov. Exhibit 4.) In a thread of
comments below the image, Defendant responded to a
commenter's question "Who is that?" by writing
"This guy is snitching! He snitched on my brothers! And
lied about everything!" (Id.) On May 18, 2017,
Defendant posted on her Facebook account the comment
"Snitching like a bitch!!!!" with a photo of CI
l's face cropped onto a picture, (Gov. Exhibit 5.) On May
21, 2017, Defendant posted another image to her Facebook
account of animated hands, handcuffed, with the caption
"Man up.. .shut your mouth take the charge and don't
snitch." (Gov. Exhibit 6.)
CI l's Testimony
trial, CI 1 testified that after Ms. Edwards posted the first
images of him and labeled him a snitch, he began to receive
numerous Facebook friend requests from people he did not
know, which caused him to fear for his safety and for the
safety of his family. He first became aware of the
Defendant's actions when he received multiple text
messages from friends and/or acquaintances, notifying him of
the posts. He acknowledged that after he testified against
the McShan brothers, a few people knew about his testimony
but that after Ms. Edwards posted his photos to her Facebook,
people began approaching him and recognizing him as a snitch.
As a result, he fears visiting Steubenville.
has four children who reside in Steubenville. He testified
that he fears for his safety and the safety of his children
if he returns to Steubenville to see them. Prior to the
Facebook posts, CI 1 visited his children on a daily basis,
but now, only sees them occasionally. CI 1 further testified
that Defendant's nephew ...