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United States v. Nevatt

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

February 7, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL RYAN NEVATT, Defendant.

          ORDER

          SARAH W. HAYS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is currently before the Court on defendant Michael Ryan Nevatt's Motion to Sever Defendant (doc #167). For the reasons set forth below, this motion is denied.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On March 30, 2016, a Criminal Complaint was filed against defendant Michael Ryan Nevatt. Defendant Michael Nevatt was arrested on March 31, 2016.

         On April 21, 2016, the Grand Jury returned a one-count Indictment against defendants Michael Nevatt, Kenneth Bryant Lake, Kara Rene Baze, Scott Bryan Sands, Jerry Lee Brown and Travis Lee Bethel. The Indictment charged defendants with conspiracy to distribute 500 grams and more of methamphetamine.

         On November 17, 2016, the Grand Jury returned a seven-count Superseding Indictment against defendants Michael Nevatt, Lake, Baze, Sands, Brown, Bethel, Lanny Eugene Ham, Cindy Ann Nevatt, Autumn Sky Provience, Jarub Ray Baird, Breann Nicole Hall, Jake Ian Nixon, Aaron Randall Stull, Michelle Vanne Gray and Tara L. Harken. In Count One of the Superseding Indictment, all defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute 500 grams and more of methamphetamine. In Count Two, defendants Michael Nevatt, Cindy Nevatt and Provience are charged with conspiracy to carry, use and possess various firearms in furtherance of the conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine charged in Count One. In Count Three, defendants Michael Nevatt, Lake, Provience and Nixon are charged with possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. In Count Four, all defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. Counts Five and Six charge defendant Michael Nevatt with engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity. Count Seven charges defendant Michael Nevatt with laundering of monetary instruments.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Joinder of Defendants

         Rule 8(b), Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, establishes the requirements for joinder of defendants. Defendants are permitted to be joined where “they are alleged to have participated in the same act or transaction, or in the same series of acts or transactions, constituting an offense or offenses.” “There is a preference in the federal system for joint trials of defendants who are indicted together.” United States v. Anderson, 783 F.3d 727, 743 (8th Cir. 2015)(quoting Zafiro v. United States, 506 U.S. 534, 537 (1993)). This is increasingly so when it is charged that defendants have engaged in a conspiracy. See United States v. Basile, 109 F.3d 1304, 1309 (8thCir.), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 866 (1997); United States v. Pou, 953 F.2d 363, 368 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 504 U.S. 926 (1992). “The preference for joint trials of defendants jointly indicted, particularly where conspiracy is charged, is not limited by any requirement that the quantum of evidence of each defendant's culpability be equal.” United States v. Mallett, 751 F.3d 907, 917 (8th Cir. 2014)(quoting United States v. Lewis, 557 F.3d 601, 610 (8th Cir. 2009)).

         The question of whether joinder is proper is to be determined from the face of the indictment, accepting as true the factual allegations in the indictment. See United States v. Massa, 740 F.2d 629, 644 (8th Cir. 1984)(overruled on other grounds), cert. denied, 471 U.S. 1115 (1985). See also United States v. Willis, 940 F.2d 1136, 1138 (8th Cir. 1991)(“the indictment on its face revealed a proper basis for joinder”); United States v. Jones, 880 F.2d 55, 62 (8th Cir. 1989)(“the superseding indictment reveals on its face a proper basis for joinder”).

         Accepting as true the factual allegations in the Superseding Indictment, it is clear that the charges in Counts One (that all defendants conspired to distribute 500 grams and more of methamphetamine), the charges in Count Two (that defendant Michael Nevatt, along with co-defendants Cindy Nevatt and Autumn Provience, conspired to carry, use and possess various firearms in furtherance of the conspiracy charged in Count One), the charges in Count Three (that defendant Michael Nevatt, along with co-defendants Kenneth Lake, Autumn Provience and Jake Nixon, possessed firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime) and the charges in Count Four (that all defendants conspired to commit money laundering), satisfy the requirement that defendants are alleged to have participated in the same act or in the same series of acts constituting an offense. There is no misjoinder of defendants in this case.

         B. Defendant Michael Nevatt is Not Prejudiced By Joinder With the Other Defendants

         “When defendants are properly joined, there is a strong presumption for their joint trial, as it gives the jury the best perspective on all of the evidence and therefore increases the likelihood of a correct outcome.” United States v. Casteel, 663 F.3d 1013, 1018 (8th Cir. 2011)(quoting United States v. Lewis, 557 F.3d 601, 609 (8th Cir. 2009)). However, Rule 14, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, permits severance where joinder would result in unfair prejudice to a defendant. The decision to sever lies in the trial court's discretion. See United States v. Davis, 882 F.2d 1334, 1340 (8th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 494 U.S. 1027 (1990).

         Defendant Michael Nevatt argues that he would be prejudiced by a joint ...


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