Singer also testified that Steven Jones, who did not testify at trial, had identified Williams as the shooter. The evidence never specified what Williams' intent, motive, or modus operandi was in carrying out the Coley shootings, and thus this incident is only relevant to show that Williams is more likely to commit crimes because he has done so in the past, which is exactly the inference that Rule 404(b) forbids.
Rule 404(b) forbids the admission of any evidence of “other crimes, wrongs, or acts ․ to prove the character of a person in order to show action in conformity therewith.” Fed. Finally, we review the admissibility of evidence under Rule 404(b) for an abuse of discretion. Second, in those cases where the district court did err, we consider whether the errors were sufficiently prejudicial to warrant reversal.a) Gary Coley Homicide At trial, Sergeant Singer of the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) testified that his investigation of an October 1987 shooting that killed Gary Coley and wounded Steven Jones and Robert Fitzpatrick “revealed” that Williams was the gunman. Thomas, 242 F.3d 1028, 1032-33 (11th Cir.2001) (finding prior drug sales relevant to show defendant's motive in felon in possession charge), the extrinsic evidence must have at least some plausible non-character relevance to the charged conduct to be admissible under 404(b).
Admission of non-testimonial hearsay against criminal defendants is not governed by Crawford, but still violates the Confrontation Clause unless the statement falls within a firmly rooted hearsay exception, or otherwise carries a particularized guarantee of trustworthiness. He further testified that the survivor of the shooting told him that Williams and two other men were the gunmen.
“One of the dangers inherent in the admission of extrinsic offense evidence is that the jury may convict the defendant not for the offense charged but for the extrinsic offense.” Id. Additionally, extrinsic evidence “may lead [the jury] to conclude that, having committed a crime of the type charged, [the defendant] is likely to repeat it.” Id. Either inference may be inimical to the long-standing rule that propensity to commit crimes should not be the basis of a conviction. Thus, the first two elements necessary to satisfy plain error review are satisfied here.
We address each of the defendants' arguments in turn, grouping them whenever possible to avoid repetition. Most of the defendants' claims are grounded in Rules 802 and 404(b), and the Confrontation Clause, and challenge evidence pertaining to violent acts allegedly committed by Williams, Casado, Leonard Brown, Baptiste, Pless, and Hawthorne. An abuse of discretion arises when the district court's decision rests upon a clearly erroneous finding of fact, an errant conclusion of law, or an improper application of law to fact. We review preserved evidentiary objections for harmless error. Hands, 184 F.3d 1322, 1329 (11th Cir.1999), corrected by 194 F.3d 1186 (11th Cir.1999). Under the plain error standard, “before an appellate court can correct an error not raised at trial, there must be (1) error, (2) that is plain, and (3) that affects substantial rights. Lawa) Hearsay and the Confrontation Clause The defendants collectively challenge the admission of fifteen items of evidence on the bases that (1) they were inadmissible hearsay and (2) their admission violated the Confrontation Clause. Moreover, if hearsay is “testimonial,” that is, for example, “made under circumstances which would lead an objective witness reasonably to believe that the statement would be available for use at a later trial,” Crawford v. Officer Sanchez's testimony about what Jetier told him is inadmissible hearsay.
We review a district court's evidentiary rulings for abuse of discretion. However, when a party raises a claim of evidentiary error for the first time on appeal, we review it for plain error only. If all three conditions are met, an appellate court may then exercise its discretion to notice a forfeited error, but only if (4) the error seriously affects the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of judicial proceedings.” United States v. Hearsay “is a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” Fed. Its only probative value was to establish that Casado and Baptiste were the shooters, and did not explain any independently relevant aspect of Sanchez's investigation. Its admission was thus a clear abuse of discretion.
Count 16 accused six defendants of conspiring to use and carry a firearm during and in relation to the Count 2 conspiracy. It is so closely related to Williams' participation in the conspiracy that it must be considered “inextricably intertwined” with the evidence of the conspiracy, see Veltmann, 6 F.3d at 1498, and is thus not 404(b) evidence.
Counts 4-15 alleged instances of drug distribution during the timeframe of the Count 2 conspiracy. It defined “testimony” as “typically ‘[a] solemn declaration or affirmation made for the purpose of establishing or proving some fact.’ ” Id. The “Ankey” murder was committed during the scope of and in furtherance of the Count 2 conspiracy.