United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ORDER DENYING MOTIONS FOR JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL AND
JEFFREY ALKER MEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
federal jury convicted defendant Arthur Stanley of murder
under the federal Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering
(“VCAR”) statute. Stanley has filed motions for a
judgment of acquittal or a new trial. For the reasons I
explain below, I will deny these motions.
night of July 15, 2011, a black Honda Accord pulled up
outside a house on 67 Oakland Terrace in the North End of
Hartford, Connecticut. Several gun shots were fired toward
the house from the car, and the car then drove away. One of
the shots struck Keith Washington in the head as he sat on
the steps of the front porch. He died two days later in the
next several years the murder of Keith Washington went
unsolved and uncharged. Ultimately, however, a federal
investigation concluded that it was Arthur Stanley who shot
and killed Keith Washington, and a grand jury returned an
indictment in October 2015 charging Stanley with a violent
crime (murder) in aid of racketeering, 18 U.S.C. §
case proceeded to a jury trial before me in December 2016,
and the jury returned a verdict of guilty. My determination
of Stanley's post-trial motions requires a detailed
review of trial evidence, viewing the evidence as I must in
the light most favorable to the jury's guilty verdict.
and Rivalry in the North End of Hartford
trial the jury learned that in the summer of 2011 the North
End of Hartford was rife with criminal gangs that controlled
certain neighborhood territories where they sold drugs and
where they violently excluded rival gangs. Doc. #135 at
46-56, 60, 100, 105-07; Doc. #136 at 182-86, 207-08. Two of
the more prominent gangs were known as “Westhell”
and “The Ave.” The Westhell gang was associated
with the area of Westland Street, while the Ave was
associated with the area of Albany Avenue. Doc. #135 at
years Westhell and the Ave were in a feud with one another.
Doc. #135 at 55-61, 107, 134; Doc. #136 at 180-83; Doc. #138
at 153-55. As one of the Ave's own members (Tyquan
Lucien) described it at trial, there was
“tension” and “beef” between Westhell
and the Ave, with “lot[s] of shootings back and
forth.” Doc. #136 at 183.
Hartford police sergeant (Anthony Pia) testified about his
years of patrol in the areas controlled by Westhell and the
Ave involving numerous gun and drug arrests involving both
gangs. Doc. #138 at 25-27. Like other gangs in the North End
of Hartford, Westhell marked its territory with graffiti.
Doc. #135 at 56-57, 90, 134.
enforcement officers testified at trial about how they saw
Stanley near Westland Street in the Westhell area, and they
also saw him associate with others such as Melkuan Scott and
Rashad Matthews whom the Government contended were members of
Westhell. Doc. #135 at 167-68; Doc. #138 at 28-39. One of
Stanley's longtime acquaintances (Brandyn Farmer)
similarly testified to seeing Stanley in the area of Westland
Street and in the company of Melkuan Scott during the years
before the shooting of Keith Washington in July 2011. Doc.
#138 at 167-68.
Scott lived on 27 Eastford Street in the heart of the
Westhell zone. Doc. #135 at 135-36. In July
2008-approximately three years prior to the killing of Keith
Washington-law enforcement received a tip about a cache of
weapons in the woods behind Scott's house and near a
garage bearing graffiti that read “Wes-Hell.”
When the agents went to investigate, they observed Matthews
making his way through the woods and they watched as he
deposited a gun in a duffel bag, which they subsequently
seized along with another bag and found an assault weapon,
seven handguns, and ammunition. Doc. #135 at 137-45, 161-66;
Govt. Exs. 3F-3L.
Shooting at 36 Vine Street
jury heard about two shooting incidents on the night of July
15, 2011. The first occurred shortly before 7:00 p.m., when
Hartford police responded to a 911 “shots fired”
call outside 36 Vine Street in the North End of Hartford.
Doc. #135 at 181; Doc. #136 at 25, 219. The responding
officers saw bullet holes in the windshield of a Mercedes
car, bullet fragments inside the car, and a shell casing on
the street, but they were unable to identify anyone on the
scene who was responsible for the shooting. Doc.
#136 at 27-34.
Shooting and Killing of Keith Washington at 67 Oakland
around 9:30 p.m. on the same evening of July 15, 2011,
Hartford police responded to a 911 call at 67 Oakland Terrace
where they found Keith Washington lying face-down on the
steps of the porch with a gunshot wound to his head. Doc.
#135 at 220-22; Doc. #136 at 35-36. Forensic investigation
concluded that at least three to four shots had been fired
from the street area toward the front porch area of 67
Oakland Terrace. Doc. #136 at 174-75. Washington died two
days later in the hospital. Doc. #137 at 205, 221.
focus of the Government's evidence at trial was to show
that it was Stanley who killed Washington as well as his
gang-related reason for doing so. To prove its case, the
Government introduced four categories of evidence. First, it
called witnesses who claimed to have seen Stanley do the
shooting. Second, it called witnesses who claimed that
Stanley made incriminating statements to them. Third, it
introduced evidence about the car-a black Honda Accord-that
it alleged Stanley used. Lastly, the Government introduced
evidence about Stanley's cellphone records to show that
he was in communication within minutes of the shootings with
a fellow Westhell member as well as to show his approximate
location at the time of both shootings. These four categories
of evidence are reviewed below.
of Eyewitnesses to the Shooting at 67 Oakland
Government called three witnesses-Tyquan Lucien, Willie
Brown, and Al-Malik Sherrod-all of whom testified that they
saw Stanley fire the shots at 67 Oakland Terrace. The first
of these witnesses was Tyquan Lucien, a longtime member of
the Ave gang with a history of vicious assaults and
shootings. Lucien testified that, on the evening of July 15,
2011, he was playing basketball with other Ave members at
Keney Park when he received a call from another Ave member,
and then everyone left the park to go to Oakland Terrace.
Doc. #136 at 219-28. Although Lucien was not permitted to
testify what the caller had told him, his testimony about
receiving the telephone call and leaving the park was
consistent with the Government's contention that the
shooting incident at Vine Street prompted concern on
Lucien's part that he would be the subject of
and the others made their way to an Ave member's house
where Lucien met Keith Washington. Id. at 227.
Lucien and Washington then went to 67 Oakland Terrace and a
neighboring house. Id. at 227-29. The house at 67
Oakland Terrace was a gathering place for the Ave. Doc. #135
at 59-60, 107-08; Doc. #137 at 153. Members of the Ave
regularly met there to sell drugs, and weapons were stored in
the yard. Doc. #136 at 215-18; Doc. #138 at 163-65; Doc. #139
at 26; Doc. #140 at 23.
testified that he went inside to get marijuana before
returning to the porch of 67 Oakland Terrace where Washington
was then sitting on the steps. Doc. #136 at 228-29. At that
point, according to Lucien, “shots started
ringing.” Doc. #136 at 229. Lucien turned to look
toward the street and saw that it was Stanley (a/k/a
“Wigg”) who had a gun in a black, two-door Honda
Accord and was firing toward him. Id. at 232-33,
235; Doc. #137 at 20, 184. Lucien had seen that car before
and had seen Stanley with the car. Doc. #137 at 22.
escaped back into the house while the car drove away. Doc.
#136 at 230-33; Doc. #137 at 20-21. He left the area before
the police arrived, and he would not implicate Stanley in the
shooting until several years later when he began cooperating
with the Government in 2015 upon being confronted with a new
criminal charge that would have mandated he spend the rest of
his life in prison. Doc. #137 at 27-28. Like several of the
Government's trial witnesses, Lucien was subject to
extensive cross-examination about his motives for testifying
and his lengthy criminal history.
second eyewitness to the shooting was Willie Brown who
testified that he was on the front porch of his home at 54
Oakland Terrace-two doors down and across the street from 67
Oakland Terrace. Doc. #140 at 26-27. Brown was a
self-described “gang banger, ” who had gone to
elementary school and previously served prison time with
Stanley. Id. at 27, 38-39. Brown testified that on
the night of July 15, 2011, he saw a black, two-door Honda
pull up to a stop in front of the house at 67 Oakland
Terrace, and that he saw a gun come out of the passenger side
window and fire about four shots. Doc. #140 at 29-31, 161. As
the car then drove off and past Brown's house, Brown
testified that he was able to see through the open window of
the car that it was Stanley in the passenger seat inside the
car. Doc. #140 at 30-33, 38-40, 161.
testimony that Stanley was one of two people in the car was
inconsistent with Lucien's testimony that Stanley was
alone in the car. Doc. #136 at 235. Like Lucien, Brown did
not come forward to tell the police what he saw until much
later, and he was subject to extensive cross-examination
about his criminal history, as well as his extensive use of
PCP and mental health problems.
third eyewitness to the shooting was Al-Malik Sherrod, who
testified that on the night of July 15, 2011, he was sitting
on the rail of the front porch of his home at 22 Oakland
Terrace, and he saw well down the street where people were
gathered on the porch at 67 Oakland Terrace. Doc. #140 at
209-11, 216. Sherrod testified that he saw a two-door black
coupe drive down Oakland Terrace, that he saw the driver get
out of the car, and that he saw the driver shoot four or five
times across the hood of the car toward the house 67 Oakland
Terrace. Id. at 214-18. The car left the scene and
drove past Sherrod who saw that it was Stanley driving the
car. Id. at 218-22; Doc. #141 at 25-26.
testimony that he saw the shooter emerge from the car and
shoot across its hood was inconsistent with the testimony of
both Lucien and Brown that the shooter remained inside the
car. Sherrod also differed from Brown in that he testified
that Stanley was driving the car and that the car's
window was closed. Doc. #141 at 98. Like Lucien and Brown,
Sherrod did not come forward to tell the police what he saw
until many months after the shooting, and he was subject to
extensive cross-examination about his motives for testifying
and his criminal history.