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United States v. Waller

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 9, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
MICHAEL TYRONE WALLER, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

NORA BARRY FISCHER, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On February 18, 2014, the Grand Jury charged Defendant, Michael Tyrone Waller ("Waller"), in a one-count indictment, with possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. ยง 922(g)(1). Specifically, the Indictment against Waller charges:

On or about February 4, 2013, in the Western District of Pennsylvania, the defendant, MICHAEL TYRONE WALLER... after having been convicted of the following offenses:
1. on or about December 5, 2011, at Criminal Number 08-423 in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, of the crimes of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession with intent to distribute heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance;
2. on or about March 21, 2007, at Docket Number XXXXXXXXX in the Court of Common Pleas, County of Allegheny, Criminal Division, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, of the crime of weapons provided to an inmate; and
3. on March 21, 2007, at Docket Number XXXXXXXXX in the Court of Common Pleas, County of Allegheny, Criminal Division, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, of the crime of fugitive not to possess a firearm,
which are all crimes punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, did knowingly possess in and affecting interstate commerce a firearm and ammunition, namely a.40 S&W caliber semi-automatic Springfield Armory pistol and.40 caliber semi-automatic ammunition. In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1).

(Docket No. 1)

On March 19, 2015, Waller, represented by counsel, [1] knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to trial by jury but explicitly requested the Court issue findings of fact and conclusions of law subsequent to the non-jury trial.[2] (Docket No. 129). Accordingly, the Court conducted a non-jury trial on April 14, 2015.[3] (Docket No. 132). At the outset of the trial, the parties read several stipulations into the record. (Tr. at 16:23-18:5).[4] Ultimately, the only issue tried was whether Waller knowingly possessed the firearm and ammunition. (Tr. at 18:16-23).

The Government presented two witnesses and several documentary exhibits. (Docket Nos. 132). The Defendant cross-examined the Government's witnesses but presented no evidence. (Id. ). During the course of the trial, Waller orally renewed his Motion to Suppress.[5] (Id. ). The Court denied this motion on the record, finding that no evidence presented during the course of the Government's case-in-chief caused the Court to change its opinion. (Id.; Tr. at 46:11-51:8).

Following the trial, the parties submitted proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. (Docket Nos. 135, 136). The parties were given the option to file responses. (Docket No. 133). On June 29, 2015, the Government filed its response. (Docket No. 137). The Defendant filed no response. Hence, the matter is now ripe for disposition.

Upon consideration of the trial record, the parties' subsequent submissions, and based on the following findings of fact and conclusions of law, the Court finds that the Government has proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Waller is guilty as charged in the Indictment in the above-captioned matter.

II. FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 23, a defendant may waive his right to a jury trial. Following a bench trial, "the court must find the defendant guilty or not guilty. If a party requests before the finding of guilty or nonguilty, the court must state its specific findings of fact in open court or in a written decision or opinion." FED.R.CRIM.P. 23(c). As Waller specifically requested the Court make findings of fact and conclusions of law, (Docket No. 129), same are herein set forth. In a non-jury trial, the court sits as trier of fact and is tasked with resolving factual disputes and assessing the credibility of ...


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