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United States v. Moya

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

May 3, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
RAYMOND MOYA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         This matter is before the Court on pretrial motions as discussed herein. This case is set for jury selection and trial on May 6, 2019.

         DISCUSSION

         I. MOTIONS RELATING TO DR. SAM ANDREWS [Docs. 312 and 322]

         On April 19, 2019, the Government filed its Motion to Exclude Evidence, Cross-Examination, and Other Information About Irrelevant and Unfairly Prejudicial Matters [Doc. 312]. In that motion, the Government argues that the Court should exclude all evidence and cross examination regarding unproven allegations about Andrews in two civil lawsuits filed against him. One case involves alleged mishandling of human remains, the other alleged tortious interference with an employment relationship. The Government argues that the allegations in the two lawsuits are irrelevant to the crimes charged in this case, do not involve dishonesty (and therefore do not make the allegations usable for cross examination under Rule 608), and should be excluded under Rule 403.

         The Defendant has not responded to the Government's motion. Instead, on April 26, 2019, Defendant filed his Motion to Exclude the Expert Testimony of Dr. Sam Andrews [Doc. 322]. Defendant argues that the Court should prohibit Dr. Sam Andrews, the medical examiner and forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy on the alleged victim in this case, from testifying because his testimony is unreliable. Defendant cites two pending civil lawsuits that have been filed against Andrews, as well as two past cases in which Andrews has changed his testimony or altered his conclusions as to cause of death. Defendant also argues that the Government's disclosure of this impeachment/Giglio evidence on April 19, 2019 was untimely. With regard to his work on this case, Defendant contends that Andrews improperly delayed in obtaining blood samples from the decedent, which impacted the reliability and accuracy of the toxicology testing. Defendant further argues that he is entitled to a pretrial Daubert hearing regarding Andrews' methodology and conclusions because “his opinion is not based on the proper application of science in his particular field [and] he did not have sufficient facts or data upon which to base his opinion.”

         On April 29, 2019, the Government filed its response [Doc. 327]. The Government argues that Defendant's arguments go to the weight that the jury might choose to give Andrews' opinion, but are insufficient to preclude him from testifying altogether. It contends that Defendant will have an opportunity to cross-examine Andrews about his medical opinions at trial, at which point it can ask him about the lapse of time between the decedent's death and the taking of his blood sample. The Government also points out that the pending investigations and civil lawsuits against Andrews remain unresolved, and at the moment they remain mere accusations rather than any demonstrated instances of untruthfulness or dishonesty. Finally, the Government argues that it has known about “issues” with Andrews since February 20, 2019, and that the detail and breadth of information about him contained in his motion (along with the testimony of his own expert, Dr. Pike) shows that rather than being prejudiced, Defendant is well prepared to defend against Andrews' testimony at trial.

         The Court concludes that Dr. Andrews will be permitted to testify. The Defendant has failed to show that his testimony should be excluded. However, Defendant will be permitted to cross examine Andrews about the extrinsic matters raised in these motions provided that he can first show that they are admissible under Rule 608 or another Rule of Evidence. The Court will make that determination, if necessary, at trial. If there is no basis for the admission of this evidence under one of the Federal Rules of Evidence, the Court would conclude that it also should be excluded under Rule 403, as it is not directly relevant to Andrews' work in this case and any probative value would be substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice and confusion of the issues.

         Thus, the Court will provisionally grant the Government's Motion to Exclude Evidence, Cross-Examination, and Other Information About Irrelevant and Unfairly Prejudicial Matters [Doc. 312], subject to Defendant's ability to demonstrate at trial that the evidence is admissible. The Court will deny Defendant's Motion to Exclude the Expert Testimony of Dr. Sam Andrews [Doc. 322].

         II. MOTIONS RELATING TO EVIDENCE STEMMING FROM BLOOD AND URINE SAMPLES [Docs. 326 and 328]

         In his motion in limine to exclude evidence regarding blood and urine samples [Doc. 326], filed April 28, 2019 (just one week prior to trial), Defendant argues that as a result of the passage of approximately 48 hours between the decedent's death and the taking of his blood and urine samples, that evidence should be excluded at trial. Defendant argues that Government witness Dr. Laura Labay, forensic toxicologist, failed to consider this delay when she opined that the decedent died solely from heroin intoxication. He contends that the blood and urine taken from the decedent “is not representative of the blood and urine in his system at the time he was pronounced dead, ” and therefore is “not relevant and reliable evidence.” Doc 326 at 4. Thus, he asserts that the evidence should be excluded under Rule 403 because the danger of unfair prejudice to him substantially outweighs its probative value. Second, Defendant argues that the evidence should be suppressed under Arizona v. Youngblood, 488 U.S. 51 (1988) and California v. Trombetta, 467 U.S. 479 (1984). He argues that by delaying the collection of decedent's blood and urine, the Government essentially destroyed exculpatory evidence, and the Defendant is unable to “obtain comparable evidence by other reasonably available means.” Doc. 326 at 7.

         The Government did not file a response. Instead, April 29, 2019, the Government filed its Motion to Strike Untimely Motion to Exclude or Suppress All Toxicology Evidence [Doc. 328]. It points out that Defendant's motion is untimely and that he has failed to show good cause for the delay. Defendant has not filed a response.

         The Court agrees with the Government for substantially all the reasons set forth in the Government's motion. The Government produced the toxicology report, autopsy report, and Dr. Labay's report to Defendant no later than February of 2016. Defendant's own expert, Dr. Pike, produced his report on December 12, 2016. The applicable motions deadline was ten working days before the April 3, 2017 trial setting. Yet, despite at that time having all the necessary information to file his motion, Defendant did not do so. In February of 2019, after the case was remanded from the Tenth Circuit, Defendant moved to extend the motions deadline but failed to give the Court any substantive reason to do so. See Doc. 279. And now, Defendant files his current motion without acknowledging that it is late or showing any good cause for the delay.

         Accordingly, the Court will grant the Government's motion to strike Defendant's combined motion in limine and motion to suppress.

         III. GOVERNMENT'S MOTION TO QUASH ...


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