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United States v. Adams

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

April 24, 2015

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Curtis Adams, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted January 16, 2015.

Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - St. Louis.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Allison Hart Behrens, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Christina Bahr Moore, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Thomas S. Rea, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Eastern District of Missouri, Saint Louis, MO.

Curtis Adams, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Terre Haute, IN.

For Curtis Adams, Defendant - Appellant: Brocca L. Morrison, FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER'S OFFICE, Saint Louis, MO.

Before WOLLMAN, SMITH, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 1146

SMITH, Circuit Judge.

Curtis Adams appeals his conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm. At trial, the district court[1] granted the government's 1 motion in limine to admit evidence of Adams's previous convictions for firearm offenses under Rule 404(b) of the Federal Rules of Evidence to show that Adams had the required intent and knowledge to possess the firearm. Adams argues that the evidence of these prior convictions should have been excluded. We affirm.

I. Background

On May 28, 2013, six police detectives approached a group of individuals in Kinlock, Missouri, after observing what appeared to be hand-to-hand drug transactions. Upon seeing the detectives, Adams clutched his waistband and fled the scene through a nearby apartment complex. Four detectives pursued. Detective Chad Hinds testified that, while in pursuit, he saw Adams brandish a semi-automatic pistol and angle his body to point it backwards at the detectives as he fled. Detective Hinds signaled to the other detectives that he saw a firearm and ordered Adams to drop the firearm. When Adams did not comply, Detective Hinds fired two rounds at Adams. According to several detectives, Adams then dropped the firearm in the grass. Detective Sean Becker stayed with the weapon while the others continued the pursuit. The detectives apprehended Adams when he tripped in a grassy area. Detective Becker and Detective William Bates transported Adams to the hospital to treat an injury Adams sustained from his fall. Both detectives testified that while in their custody, Adams made incriminating statements about possessing the firearm.

Adams was indicted for one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Adams pleaded not guilty. The government moved in limine to introduce evidence of Adams's prior convictions under Rule 404(b) to prove his knowledge of firearms and his intent to possess a firearm. These two prior convictions included a 2008 conviction in federal court for being a felon in possession of a firearm and a 2005 state-court conviction for unlawful use of a weapon--carrying a concealed weapon. In both cases, Adams was convicted of carrying semi-automatic pistols similar to the one police alleged he carried on the day of his arrest. At the final pre-trial conference, the district court accepted a stipulation between the parties to delay ruling on the motion until it became relevant at trial.

At the end of the first day of trial and after the jurors had been dismissed, the court revisited the motion in limine. The government suggested that the time was ripe for the court to rule on the motion because Adams's defense elicited testimony that questioned whether he actually possessed the firearm. Adams's defense was essentially based on a ...


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