September 30, 2014

Tenth Circuit: Expert Did Not Simply Repeat Outside Information, but Formed Conclusions Based on His Experience

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Kamahele on Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

Mr. Eric Kamahele, Mr. Daniel Maumau, Mr. Kepa Maumau, Mr. Sitamipa Toki, and Mr. Mataika Tuai appeal their convictions arising from armed robberies and shootings in connection with the Tongan Crips Gang (“TCG”) in Glendale, Utah. In a jury trial, Mr. Kamahele, Mr. Kepa Maumau, and Mr. Tuai were found guilty of conspiring to commit a racketeering offense under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968 (2006). Mr. Eric Kamahele, Mr. Daniel Maumau, Mr. Kepa Maumau, and Mr. Sitamipa Toki were found guilty of committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity (“VICAR”), 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a) (2006). Mr. Kamahele, Mr. Kepa Maumau, and Mr. Tuai were also found guilty of violating the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) (2006). And all were found guilty of violating 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (2006), for using guns during their respective crimes.

All of the defendants contend the district court erred by: (1) admitting expert testimony by Mr. Break Merino about the TCG’s history, structure, and activities, and (2) denying their motions for a judgment of acquittal under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29 based on the Government’s failure to prove various elements of RICO and VICAR. Four defendants also raised individual claims.

The Tenth Circuit rejected all of the individual and collective arguments and affirmed the judgments of the trial court.

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