United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON MOTIONS IN LIMINE
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
trial looming, the Government filed three motions in limine.
Although the justification of self-defense is not available
to a defendant charged with being a felon in possession of a
firearm, the Court concludes that the Defendant may put the
Government to its proof to establish that his use and
possession of the firearm was during and in relation to and
in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The Court grants
the Government's motions in limine to permit the
Government to introduce evidence that the Defendant was a
prohibited person at the time of his possession and use of
the firearm and that the firearm was stolen in order to
support its case that the Defendant possessed and used the
firearm during and in relation to and in furtherance of a
drug trafficking crime. The Court holds in abeyance other
related evidentiary issues until presented in the specific
context of the trial.
November 10, 2016, a federal grand jury issued an indictment
against Kweasia McBride alleging that he committed a
federal crime: being a prohibited person in possession of a
firearm, an alleged violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1).
Indictment (ECF No. 1). The asserted basis for his
prohibition was the commission of five prior felonies.
Id. at 1-2. On February 15, 2017, a federal grand
jury issued a superseding indictment against Mr. McBride,
alleging that in addition to the felon in possession of a
firearm charge, he committed two other federal crimes: (1)
possession with the intent to distribute heroin, an alleged
violation of 21 U.S.C. §841(b)(1)(C), and (2) carrying
and discharging a firearm during and in relation to and in
furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, an alleged violation
of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(iii). Superseding
Indictment (ECF No. 24). On November 8, 2017, a federal
grand jury issued a second superseding indictment, striking
an allegation in the superseding indictment about a 1998
conviction in the state of New York for criminal possession
of a weapon in the fourth degree as constituting a predicate
felony, but leaving the allegation that Mr. McBride had
committed the remaining four felonies before his alleged June
26, 2016 possession of a firearm. Second Superseding
Indictment at 1-2 (ECF No. 48). On January 23, 2018, the
case was scheduled for jury trial beginning on March 8, 2018
with jury selection on March 6, 2018. Notice of
Hr'g (ECF No. 69, 70).
November 9, 2017, the Government filed three motions in
limine. Gov't's First Set of Mots. in Limine
(ECF No. 51) (Gov't's First Mot.);
Gov't's Second Mot. in Limine (ECF No. 54)
(Gov't's Second Mot.); Gov't's
Third Mot. in Limine (ECF No. 55) (Gov't's
Third Mot.). On December 8, 2017, Mr. McBride responded
to the first motion in limine. Def.'s Resp. to
Gov't's First Mot. in Limine (ECF No. 65)
(Def.'s First Resp.). On November 30, 2017, he
responded to the Government's second and third motions in
limine. Def.'s Resp. to Gov't's Second &
Third Mots. in Limine (ECF No. 61) (Def.'s
Second & Third Resp.). The Government replied to
Mr. McBride's responses on December 13, 2017 and December
21, 2017 respectively. Gov't's Reply to
Def.'s Resp. to Gov't's Second & Third Mots.
in Limine (ECF No. 67) (Gov't's Second &
Third Replies); Gov't's Reply to
Def.'s Resp. to Gov't's First Mot. in Limine
(ECF No. 68) (Gov't's First Reply).
The Government's Proffered Evidence
memorandum, the Government proffered:
26, 2016, Mr. McBride was the passenger in a Ford Taurus car
and a female drove him in the Ford to a Walmart store in
Augusta, Maine. Gov't's First Mot. at 2. A
Volkswagen car followed the Ford to the Walmart parking lot.
Id. Once the Ford and Volkswagen arrived at the
parking lot, there was a dispute between the occupants of
both vehicles. Id. During the dispute, Mr. McBride
grabbed his firearm, a Kel-Tec 9 mm pistol and fired multiple
rounds at a male who had traveled to the Walmart in the
Volkswagen. Id. The male at whom Mr. McBride fired
his pistol, fired shots back at Mr. McBride. Id.
After Mr. McBride fired the Kel-Tec pistol at the other male,
Mr. McBride threw the pistol on the ground. Id. Mr.
McBride then became involved in a physical altercation with
the other male and with a female who had been in the
Volkswagen. Id. at 2-3. The altercation took place
near the Volkswagen and Ford cars. Id. at 3.
the altercation, Mr. McBride got back into the Ford and the
female driver drove from the Walmart parking lot with him.
Id. Police officers followed the Ford and stopped it
in a residential driveway. Id. Officers approached
the female driver and Mr. McBride and detained them.
Id. Officers found suspected heroin in Mr.
McBride's possession and a laboratory screening confirmed
that the substance was heroin and that it weighed 40.991
the shooting on June 26, 2016, officers conducted a
Mirandized interview of Mr. McBride. Id.
Mr. McBride admitted possessing the pistol he discharged in
the Walmart parking lot, discharging the pistol multiple
times, and throwing it on the ground. Id. Mr.
McBride admitted that the pistol he fired was his pistol,
that he pulled out the pistol during the dispute, and that he
purchased the pistol. Id. He claimed that he had
bought the pistol legally. Id.
6, 2016, officers executed a search warrant on the Ford.
Id. Underneath the passenger seat where Mr. McBride
had been sitting, officers located a loaded, Imperial Metal
Products, model 7, .22 caliber revolver. Id. In the
trunk, officers found a Jennings, model 38, .32 caliber
firearm and a Cobra Enterprises of Utah, Inc. model C22M, .22
caliber firearm. Id. Also in the trunk, officers
found multiple scales, ammunition, and a firearms speed
June 26, 2016, Mr. McBride was prohibited from possessing
firearms because he had multiple felony convictions.
Id. at 3-4. Officers discovered that the Kel-Tec
pistol had been stolen and that Mr. McBride was not the
original purchaser of the Kel-Tec. Id. at 4.
THE PARTIES' POSITIONS
The First Motion in Limine: Self-Defense
The Government's Motion
Government's first motion in limine, the Government seeks
to prevent Mr. McBride from presenting evidence of
self-defense to the charge in Count One of the second
superseding indictment, the felon in possession charge,
because in its view self-defense is not a legal justification
to the charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Id. at 4-6. Similarly, the Government seeks an order
prohibiting Mr. McBride from presenting evidence of
self-defense to the charge in Count Three of the second
superseding indictment, the carrying and using a firearm
during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense,
possessing the firearm in furtherance of the drug trafficking
crime, and discharging the firearm. Id. at 7-10.
Kweasia McBride's Response
response, Mr. McBride confirms that he does not intend to
assert self-defense as a defense to Counts One and Three.
Def.'s First Resp. at 1. In his words, he
“does not intend to argue at trial that the
circumstances justified the Defendant in having
‘carried and used during and in relation to . . .
.'” Id. at 2. Nor does he “argue
that the circumstances justified the Defendant in having
‘possessed [a firearm] in furtherance of . . .
Mr. McBride does intend to put the Government to its proof on
whether he carried and used a firearm “during and in
relation to a drug trafficking crime, ” id. at
2, and whether he “possessed [a firearm] in furtherance
of” a drug trafficking crime. Id. In other
words, Mr. McBride intends to argue that his possession and
use of the firearms were related not to a drug trafficking
offense but “as a necessary response under the
circumstances for protection of self or another.”