United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MALACHY E. MANNION UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the court is the defendant Vincent John Ingino's
(“Ingino”) motion in limine to exclude
death scene photographs. (Doc. 43). Based on the following,
Ingino's motion, (Doc. 43), will be GRANTED IN
PART and DENIED IN PART.
November 13, 2018, Ingino was indicted on two counts of
distribution and possession with intent to distribute a
controlled substance. (Doc. 1). The charges stem from alleged
drug transactions that resulted in the death of two
individuals, Patrick Pasquariello and Ryan Donahue. (Doc. 1).
Ingino pleaded not guilty to the charges against him on
November 26, 2018. (Doc. 11).
March 25, 2019, Ingino filed a motion to suppress statements
he made to police on September 17, 2018. (Doc. 22). On July
15, 2019, this court held a hearing on the suppression
motion. (Doc. 32). By memorandum and order dated November 14,
2019, the court denied the motion to suppress. (Doc. 36; Doc.
December 19, 2019, Ingino filed the present motion in
limine. (Doc. 43). The government filed a brief in
opposition on January 2, 2020. On January 3, 2020, Ingino
filed a reply brief. (Doc. 51). The matter is now ripe for
motion is filed pursuant to Federal Rules of Criminal
Procedure 401, 402, and 403. It is axiomatic that
“irrelevant evidence is not admissible.”
Fed.R.Evid. 402. Evidence is relevant if “it has any
tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would
be without the evidence” and if “the fact is of
consequence in determining the action.” Fed.R.Evid.
401. Even if evidence is relevant, the court can exclude it
if “its probative value is substantially outweighed by
a danger of one or more of the following: unfair prejudice,
confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay,
wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative
evidence.” Fed.R.Evid. 403. Rule 403 contemplates that
some evidence will be prejudicial; however, “[t]he
question is whether that prejudice ‘substantially
outweighs' its probative value.” United States
v. Bledsoe, 449 Fed.App'x 159, 163 (3d Cir. 2011).
In a criminal case, “‘unfair prejudice' . . .
speaks to the capacity of some concededly relevant evidence
to lure the factfinder into declaring guilt on a ground
different from proof specific to the offense charged.”
Old Chief v. United States, 519 U.S. 172, 180
the government has submitted four photographs of the death
scenes of the two victims that it proposes to use at trial.
Ingino argues these photographs should be suppressed because
they are not probative of the ultimate issue in this case,
which is whether Ingino provided the victims the drugs that
ultimately caused their deaths. Ingino emphasizes that this
is a drug case and not a murder case, and notes that he does
not dispute that the victims are dead or their manner of
deaths. Ingino asserts that the victims' death
certificates “would readily prove the information
necessary for the government's case.” (Doc. 44, at
2). Finally, Ingino argues that, even if the photographs were
relevant, the likelihood they will inflame the minds and
passions of the jury outweighs any evidentiary value.
response, the government argues that it seeks to introduce
only a few selected photographs of hundreds that were taken
from both scenes. The government contends that these
photographs are probative and relevant in that they will
allow the jury a complete visual picture of events,
corroborate witness accounts, and establish the overall
timeline of events. The government contends the photographs
shed light on timing because they show that both victims
almost immediately upon use; both [victims] injected the
drugs sold by the defendant, as opposed to snorting the drugs
as the defendant claims he did; both [victims] have
hypodermic needles alongside their bodies-as is evidenced by
the photographs; both [victims] purchased their drugs from
the defendant within hours of their death[s]; [and] the
Government's expert toxicologist relied, in ...