United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS COUNT TWO OF THE
R. Underhill United States District Judge.
Harold Cook, Gerund Mickens, Terrell Hunter, and Douglas
(“the defendants”) are charged with crimes
stemming from the kidnapping, robbery, and murder of Charles
Teasley in Hartford, Connecticut on January 9, 2009. The
indictment charges the defendants with kidnapping resulting
in the death of a person, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
1201(a)(1) & (2) (Count One); with firearm-related murder
and kidnapping, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§
924(c), 924(j)(1) & (2), 1111(a), & 1201(a)(1) &
(2) (Count Two); and with firearm-related murder and Hobbs
Act robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c),
924(j)(1) & (2), 1111(a), & 1951(a) (Count Three).
defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Count Two of the
Indictment, arguing that the government failed to state an
offense. Mot. to Dism., Doc. No. 203 at 1. Principally, the
defendants argue that under the categorical approach,
kidnapping cannot serve as the predicate crime of violence
under either the “force clause” or the
“residual/risk-of-force clause” of Section
924(c)(3). Id.; see 18 U.S.C. §§
924(c)(3)(A), (B). On July 19, I held oral argument on a
number of pre-trial motions filed in this case and I denied
the defendants' Motion to Dismiss Count Two on the
record, but indicated that I would issue a more thorough
January 12, 2009, the body of Charles Teasley was discovered
by his friend, Desmond Wright, in a car parked on Colebrook
Street in Hartford, Connecticut. Teasley, a known drug
dealer, had been shot multiple times in the head.
March 30, 2017, Harold Cook, Gerund Mickens, Terrell Hunter,
Douglas Lee, and Jesus Ashanti were all charged in a
three-count indictment with Teasley's kidnapping,
robbery, and murder. According to the allegations in the
indictment, Lee set up Teasley to be robbed by arranging to
buy cocaine from him and providing Cook with the details of
the planned transaction. When Teasley went to meet Lee, he
was ambushed by Cook, Mickens, Hunter, and Ashanti, who
kidnapped Teasley by binding his hands with zip-ties and
forcing him into the back of his car. Cook, Mickens, Hunter,
and Ashanti then assaulted Teasley; forced him to telephone
his girlfriend, who brought the defendants a safe hidden at
Teasley's residence; and finally murdered Teasley by
shooting him in the head at close range.
March 31, 2017, the court issued warrants for the
defendants' arrest. Cook, Mickens, and Hunter were all
arrested on April 4, 2017; Lee was arrested on April 6, 2017;
and Ashanti was arrested on April 11, 2017. The case was
transferred to me by Senior United States District Judge
Alfred V. Covello on January 25, 2018.
Rule of Criminal Procedure 12(b)(3) sets forth various
defenses and objections that “must be raised by
pretrial motion.” Those defenses include
“defect[s] in the indictment.” Fed. R. Crim. P.
12(b)(3)(B)(v). Here, the defendants move to dismiss Count
Two of the indictment pursuant to Rule 12(b)(3)(B)(v) for
failure to state an offense. See Mot. to Dism., Doc.
No. 203. As indicated on the record at oral argument, I deny
the motion to dismiss.
defendants are charged in Count Two with Firearm-Related
Murder/Kidnapping pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 924(j)(1).
Section 924(j) imposes additional penalties for certain
violations of section 924(c). Section 924(c) requires, as an
element of the offense, that the defendants have carried a
firearm “during and in relation to any crime of
violence.” Subsection (3) defines a “crime of
violence” as an “offense that is a felony”
(A) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened
use of physical force against the person or property of
another, or (B) that, by its nature, involves a substantial
risk that physical force against the person or property of
another may be used in the course of committing the offense.
18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3). The Second Circuit has referred
to clause (A) as the “force clause” and clause
(B) as the “risk-of-force clause, ” though clause
(B) is sometimes also referred to as the “residual
clause.” United States v. Hill, 890 F.3d 51,
54 n.5 (2d Cir. 2018). The “crime of violence”
alleged in Count Two of the indictment is kidnapping,
pursuant to Section 1201(a)(1) which provides, in relevant
Whoever unlawfully seizes, confines, inveigles, decoys,
kidnaps, abducts, or carries away and holds for ransom or
reward or otherwise any person … when the person is
willfully transported in interstate or foreign commerce
… or uses the mail or any means, facility, or
instrumentality of interstate or foreign ...