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United States v. Myers

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

October 27, 2014



LOUIS GUIROLA, Jr., Chief District Judge.

BEFORE THE COURT are the [67] Motion for Acquittal and [68] Motion for New Trial filed by the defendant James Allen Myers. Following a three-day trial, Myers was found guilty on all counts of the indictment, which alleged that he knowingly transported and possessed visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, or what is commonly referred to as child pornography.

Defendant Myers moves for a judgment of acquittal pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29, which provides that if a jury has returned a guilty verdict, "the court may set aside the verdict and enter an acquittal." FED. R. CRIM. P. 29(c)(2). In support of his Motion, Myers asserts that the government failed to offer sufficient proof as to the "knowingly" element of each offense in the indictment.

In the alternative, Myers seeks a new trial pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33, which permits a court to "vacate any judgment and grant a new trial if the interest of justice so requires." FED. R. CRIM. P. 33(a). He contends he is entitled to a new trial on several grounds, including the denial of his Motion to Suppress (ECF No. 35), and the admission of certain testimony and evidence.

The government has filed a response in opposition to each Motion. The Court has considered the Motions, and after a review of the parties' submissions and the record as a whole, finds that Myers has not shown that the jury's verdict should be set aside, or that the interest of justice requires a new trial.


I. Motion for Judgment of Acquittal

In the context of a motion for acquittal, "[t]he jury's verdict will be affirmed if a reasonable trier of fact could conclude from the evidence that the elements of the offense were established beyond a reasonable doubt." United States v. Girod, 646 F.3d 304, 313 (5th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). In evaluating a motion under Rule 29, the Court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the government. See United States v. Quiroz-Hernandez, 48 F.3d 858, 864-65 (5th Cir. 1995); United States v. Fontenot, 483 F.2d 315, 319 (5th Cir. 1973).

Myers challenges the sufficiency of the government's evidence that he "knowingly" transported and possessed child pornography. Specifically, he asserts that the government failed to prove that he "was the person that downloaded, produced, or accessed any of the images" on the various items seized from his residence. (Mot. for J. of Acquittal 1, ECF No. 67). He also notes that the computers seized from his bedroom were not password-protected.

Transportation of Child Pornography

At trial, the government produced multiple computers, hard drives, and compact disks that had been seized from Myers's bedroom during a search that took place while Myers was present. Myers was the sole occupant of that bedroom, which he rented from the owners of the residence. When the seized computer equipment was reviewed by an expert in the forensic analysis of computers, it was found to contain thousands of images of child pornography.

The government presented evidence that Myers had moved from Florida to Mississippi shortly before the seizure took place, and that specific pieces of computer equipment seized in Mississippi had been in Myers's possession while he was living in Florida. Witnesses for the government testified that Myers had been the sole user of that computer equipment while he resided in Florida. Myers admitted to federal agents during the seizure that one of the hard drives, which was later found to contain child pornography, had been brought from Florida to Mississippi. The government also presented testimony that when Myers left Florida and moved into his residence in Mississippi, he brought the computer equipment with him and personally moved it into his bedroom. Testimony established that while Myers resided in Mississippi, he was the sole occupant of the room where the computer equipment was located, and he was the only person who used the computer equipment until it was seized by federal agents.

Possession of Child Pornography

The computer equipment seized from Myers's bedroom, including compact disks, contained some 20, 000 images of child pornography in total. The government showed a number of those images at trial, many of which depicted very young (prepubescent) children who were nude or engaging in sexual conduct. As noted above, the computer equipment and disks seized from Myers were in his exclusive possession, and multiple witnesses testified that Myers had been the only user of that computer equipment. One witness testified that Myers was knowledgeable about computers; others testified that he spent a great deal of time using his computers. The government also produced evidence that an Internet Protocol address associated with Myers had been used to upload images of child pornography to an image-sharing website. Additionally, witnesses testified that one of Myers's hobbies was photography, and that he frequently took photos of children. The evidence presented at trial included a home video seized from Myers, in which a three-year-old child is seen naked from the waist down, and an adult male ...

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