United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS FOR
ACQUITTAL AND NEW TRIAL PURSUANT TO RULES 29 AND 33 OF THE
FEDERAL RULES OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE [ECF NOS. 151,
VANESSA L. BRYANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are Defendant James Erik Godiksen's
(“Defendant” or “Godiksen”) motion
for acquittal and motion for a new trial under Rule 29 and
Rule 33 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Defendant
was tried and convicted by a jury on one count of murder for
hire in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1958. Godiksen now
requests that the Court set aside the jury's verdict and
grant his motion for acquittal, or in the alternative grant
his motion for a new trial. For the following reasons, these
motions are DENIED.
court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the
Government when considering a motion for acquittal brought
under Rule 29. United States v. Cacace, 796 F.3d
176, 191 (2d Cir. 2015). On September 29, 2016, a grand jury
returned an indictment charging the defendant with one count
of murder for hire in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1958.
[ECF No. 9 (Indictment)]. The indictment was based on the
results of a murder for hire investigation undertaken by the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
(“ATF”), which took place from September 9 to 14,
2016. Id. at 1. Godiksen was the object of that
prior to the ATF's investigation, Godiksen had served a
thirty-day sentence at the New Haven Correctional Center
(“NHCC”). [ECF No. 147 (Godiksen Trial Tr. Day 3)
at 182:22-183:4, 193:7-12]. Testimony at trial indicated that
Godiksen discussed killing his ex-wife with an inmate named
‘Josh', while serving his sentence at NHCC. [ECF
No. 144 (Godiksen Trial Tr. Day 1) at 37:4-7, 55:12-23,
62:9-13]; [ECF No. 147 at 191:14-24]. Josh reported to
then-Intelligence Lieutenant Craig Burnett that Godiksen was
actively searching for someone in the corrections facility to
help him have his ex-wife murdered. [ECF No. 144 at 37:4-7,
55:12-23, 62:9-13]; [ECF No. 147 at 191:14-24]. Lieutenant
Burnett passed this information along to ATF. [ECF No. 144 at
30:5-17]. ATF began its investigation soon after being
notified about Godiksen's alleged conduct. Special Agent
Paul D'Angelo (“D'Angelo”) stationed in
Manchester, New Hampshire contacted Godiksen via cellular
phone from Salem, New Hampshire in order to install himself
as the proposed hitman in Godiksen's murder for hire.
[ECF No. 144 at 104:9-25]; see also Government
Exhibit 24; Government Exhibit 25.
their initial phone conversation on September 10, 2016,
Godiksen confirmed his identity by stating that he was
‘Fish'. See Government Exhibit 25.
‘Fish' was the nickname given to Godiksen by
inmates at NHCC, and the moniker Josh told the investigators
to use when contacting Godiksen about the murder for hire.
[ECF No. 144 at 31:9-11; 51:14-19]. D'Angelo testified
Godiksen was using coded language to discuss having his
ex-wife murdered. [ECF No. 145 (Godiksen Trial Tr. Day 2) at
80:1-16]. Instead of discussing murder for hire directly,
Godiksen told D'Angelo he was interested in having work
done on his home. See Government Exhibit 25. The
evidence showed that Godiksen was living out of motels, and
therefore did not live in a home at the time of the phone
call. [ECF No. 145 at 33:20-21]; Government Exhibit 25.
Godiksen and D'Angelo had not discussed work on a home
Godiksen's home previously. D'Angelo testified that
he knew based on the context this was a code that Godiksen
was using in order to avoid “us[ing] the word
‘murder' or ‘killing' or anything on a
phone line, which would be common in these types of
situations.” [ECF No. 145 at 80: 8-12]. Godiksen stated
several times that he would pay D'Angelo for the
“work on his house.” Government Exhibit 25.
D'Angelo and Godiksen set up a meeting in Connecticut
during the initial conversation. See Government
Exhibit 25. After the conversation ended, D'Angelo left
New Hampshire and traveled to Connecticut in order to meet
with Godiksen. [ECF No. 144 at 109:16-22].
Connecticut, D'Angelo and Godiksen met in person several
times to iron out the details of their deal. In each of these
accounts, Godiksen is recorded stating that he wanted his
ex-wife to be murdered. See Government Exhibit 25,
26, 30. During the meetings, Godiksen provided information to
D'Angelo regarding his ex-wife's home address, her
place of work, her vehicle and license plate number, and her
appearance. See Government Exhibit 26; see
also [ECF No. 144 at 122:23-123:16], [ECF No. 145 at
further described where he felt a suitable location might be
to carry out the murder. Government Exhibit 26; see
also [ECF No. 145 at 99:25-100:13]. Godiksen was
recorded suggesting that D'Angelo cut his ex-wife's
head off and specifically asking that D'Angelo not harm
Godiksen's ex-wife's dog. Government Exhibit 26;
see also [ECF No. 145 at 59:25-60:1].
initially agreed to a $5000 price, explaining there would be
a slight delay in accessing his funds. See
Government Exhibit 26. In a later conversation he offered his
vehicle as payment. Government Exhibit 30; see also
[ECF No. 145 at 55:3-4]. During his final conversation with
Godiksen on September 14, 2016, D'Angelo confirmed that
Godiksen was hiring him to kill Godiksen's ex-wife.
D'Angelo told Godiksen that when he left, he'd be
going to kill Godiksen's ex-wife, he would be
incommunicado and Godiksen would not have a chance to back
out of the arrangement. Government Exhibit 30; see
also [ECF No. 145 at 24:15-22]. Godiksen confirmed that
he was hiring D'Angelo to kill his ex-wife responding,
that he wanted the murder to take place and requested a
promise from D'Angelo that the murder be carried out.
Government Exhibit 30; see also [ECF No. 145 at
74:14-15]. Godiksen then promised one final time to pay for
the murder in cash. See Government Exhibit 30;
see also [ECF No. 145 at 71:22-72:3]. Godiksen was
arrested moments later.
trial, which ran for six days between July 10 and 19, 2018,
the jury returned a verdict stating that Godiksen (1) used a
facility of interstate commerce, while at the same time
having (2) the intent that his ex-wife be murdered, and (3)
that Godiksen made an agreement to pay for the murder. [ECF
No. 133 (Jury Verdict) at 1-2]. Following the guilty verdict,
on August 3, 2018, the defendant was granted a Motion to
Continue for his Motions for Acquittal and for a New Trial,
extending the deadline for those motions beyond the 14-day
limit that Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 29(c)(1) and
33(b)(2) set forth, until October 3, 2018. [ECF No. 137].
Defendant filed Motions for Acquittal and for a New Trial on
October 3, 2018, [ECF Nos. 151, 152], which the Government
opposed on October 24, 2018. [ECF No. 153].
Motion for Acquittal
argues that the evidence was insufficient to show beyond a
reasonable doubt that he had the specific intent that his
ex-wife be murdered when he spoke on the phone with
D'Angelo, therefore the intent element of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1958 was not satisfied. See [ECF No. 151
(Defendant's Motion for Acquittal) at 1-2]. Defendant
further argues that there was insufficient evidence to show
that a pecuniary value had been settled upon; therefore, a
rational jury could not find beyond a reasonable doubt that
this element of 18 U.S.C. § 1958 had been satisfied.
[ECF No. 151 at 2]. The evidence presented was sufficient
that a rational jury could find all the elements of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1958 satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt.
Standard of Review; Motion for Acquittal
a defendant's postverdict motion, ‘the court
‘must enter a judgment of acquittal of any offense for
which the evidence is insufficient to sustain a
conviction.'” Cacace, 796 F.3d at 191
(quoting Fed. R. Crim. P. 29(a)). “A defendant
challenging the sufficiency of the evidence bears a heavy
burden, because the reviewing court is required to draw all
permissible inferences in favor of the government and resolve
all issues of credibility in favor of the jury
verdict.” United States v. Kozeny, 667 F.3d
122, 139 (2d Cir. 2011) (citation omitted). “The motion
must be denied if, after viewing the evidence in the light
most favorable to the prosecution, the court concludes that
‘any rational trier of fact could have found the
essential elements of the crime established beyond a
reasonable doubt.”' Cacace, 796 F.3d at
191 (quoting United States v. Moore, 54 F.2d 92, 100
(2d Cir. 1995). “In addition, we consider the evidence
in its totality, not in isolation, and the government need
not negate every theory of innocence.” United
States v. Lee, 549 F.3d 84, 92 (2d Cir. 2008) (citation
omitted; internal quotation marks omitted).
conviction may be based entirely on circumstantial
evidence.” Id. “So long as the inference
is reasonable, ‘it is the task of the jury, not the
court, to choose among competing inferences.'”
United States v. Kim, 435 F.3d 182, 184 (2d Cir.
2006) (quoting United States v. Martinez, 54 F.3d
1040, 1042 (2d Cir. 1995)). “[W]e may ‘enter a
judgment of acquittal only if the evidence that the defendant
committed the crime alleged is nonexistent or so meager that
no reasonable jury could find guilt beyond a reasonable
doubt.'” United States v. Francisco, 642
Fed.Appx. 40, 43 (2d Cir. 2016) (quoting United States v.
Temple, 447 F.3d 130, 136 (2d Cir. 2006)). The
jury's determination of guilt beyond reasonable doubt is
to be accepted by the court, even in circumstances where the
evidence may also have supported the jury not
finding guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. United States v.
Santos, 541 F.3d 63, 70 (2d Cir. 2008) (“[W]here
‘either of the two results, a reasonable doubt or no
reasonable doubt, is fairly possible, the court must let the
jury decide the matter.'” (quoting United
States v. Autuori, 212 F.3d 105, 114 (2d Cir. 2000)).
Murder for Hire; 18 U.S.C. § 1958
individual is guilty of murder for hire if the government
proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual:
travel[ed] in or cause[d] another (including the intended
victim) to travel in interstate or foreign commerce, or
use[d] or cause[d] another (including the intended victim) to
use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign
commerce, with intent that a murder be committed in violation
of the laws of any State or the United States as
consideration for the receipt of, or as consideration for a
promise or agreement to pay, anything of pecuniary value, or
who conspire[d] to do so.
18 U.S.C. § 1958(a). “When the defendant is the
solicitor of the murder-for-hire, it is the defendant's
intent that controls.” United States v.
Hardwick, 523 F.3d 94, 100 (2d Cir. 2008) (citation
omitted). “The nature of the solicitor's intent is
especially important when the would-be murderer is an
undercover agent who by definition never intends to commit
the crime.” Id. (citation omitted).
“[T]here must be some evidence to establish that at the
time the agreement was formed, the consideration was
something the ‘primary significance' of which lay
in its ‘economic advantage.'” United
States v. Frampton, 382 F.2d 213, 219 (2d Cir. 2004)
(quoting 18 U.S.C. § 1958(b)(1)). “[T]here must be
a quid-pro-quo (or at least the promise of such) between the
parties to the transaction.” United States v.
Babilonia, 854 F.3d. 163, 174 (2d Cir. 2017) (citations
omitted; internal quotation marks omitted).
Rational Jury Could Have Concluded that Godiksen Used or
Caused Another to Use a Facility of Interstate Commerce
of a cell phone to discuss a murder for hire with the
proposed hitman satisfies the facility of interstate commerce
requirement of 18 U.S.C. § 1958. See United States
v. Perez, 414 F.3d 302, 305 (2d Cir. 2005); see also
United States v. Giordano, 442 F.3d 30, 39 (2d Cir.
2006) (“the national telephone network is a
‘facility of interstate . . . commerce' for
purposes of the federal murder-for-hire statute.”)
(citations omitted); 18 U.S.C. § 1958(b)(2)
(‘“facility of interstate or foreign
commerce' includes means of transportation and
communication.”). The parties stipulated to certain
facts, including a cell-phone call between Connecticut and
New Hampshire would use cell towers outside of Connecticut.
See generally [ECF No. 106 (Stipulation)]. The jury
heard a recorded telephone conversations between Godiksen,
who was in Connecticut and D'Angelo, who at times was in
Rhode Island at one time and in Connecticut at other times,
during which Godiksen commissioned D'Angelo to commit the
murder. Godiksen did not argue that he did not speak about
murder for hire while on the phone with D'Angelo. Based
on the above-mentioned definition of interstate commerce, a
rational jury could have concluded beyond a reasonable doubt
that Godiksen used or caused D'Angelo to use a facility
of interstate commerce in pursuing murder for hire by
conversing about the murder for hire with D'Angelo using
his cell phone.
Godiksen Had the Requisite Intent to Satisfy 18 U.S.C. §
1958 When He Initially Spoke with D'Angelo Over the Phone
The Specific Intent Requirement of 18 U.S.C. §
rational jury to find that the defendant had the requisite
intent to commit murder for hire, the government must show
that the defendant not only conversed about a murder for hire
through a facility of interstate commerce, but that
“the accused intended for a murder to be
committed.” United States v. Richeson, 338
F.3d 653, 656 (7th Cir. 2003). See also Hardwick,
523 F.3d at 100 (same).
Godiksen Demonstrated His Intent to have His Ex-Wife Killed
During the Initial Phone Call and in Later Face-to-Face
testified that during their initial phone conversation
Godiksen spoke in code to him about killing Godiksen's
ex-wife by saying he wanted work done on his house.
D'Angelo knew this was code because they had never
discussed work on a house. Further, the ‘Josh'
connection drastically narrowed the possibilities down as to
what the code meant, leading D'Angelo to infer that
Godiksen was talking about murder for hire. Godiksen also did
not own a home at the time the conversation took place. This
evidence could lead a rational jury to conclude that Godiksen
had the intent that his ex-wife be murdered during the
initial phone conversation with D'Angelo.
evidence from later encounters (still prior to Godiksen's
arrest) between D'Angelo and Godiksen could also lead a
rational jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that
Godiksen was not discussing work on his house during that
initial conversation and was instead communicating in code
about a murder for hire. The evidence shows that over the
course of the investigation, Godiksen stated his desire to
have his ex-wife murdered on several occasions. Godiksen is
recorded suggesting a method of killing his ex-wife and
giving a detailed description of her. Government Exhibit 26.
He then described a secluded location that his ex-wife
frequented, believing it to be an ideal place for
D'Angelo to strike. Id.
final conversation pre-arrest with D'Angelo, Godiksen
stated that he wanted his ex-wife to be murdered and added
that he was ready to pay D'Angelo to do it. Government
Exhibit 30. These statements indicate that Godiksen had the
specific intent that his ex-wife be murdered throughout the
ATF's investigation, and therefore a rational jury could
find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had the
specific intent to have his ex-wife murdered during the
initial phone call with D'Angelo.
Godiksen's Motive for Killing his Ex-wife Supports
Finding Godiksen had the Requisite Specific Intent
Government argues that Godiksen's reason for seeking
murder for hire against his ex-wife was that she took
everything from him in their divorce, and therefore ruined
his life. [ECF No. 153 at 10]; see also Government
Exhibit 26 (“She took my house, my dog, my Corvette.
She took everything.”). Godiksen argues that he did not
have motive to kill his ex-wife because she did not take
everything from him in the divorce as the government
contends, and as he stated following his arrest. Godiksen
argues that although he previously stated that his ex-wife
took everything from him, see Government Exhibit 26,
the reality was that he retained the rights to several items,
including his retirement account and his Corvette. [ECF No.
151 (Defendant's Motion for Acquittal) at 19]. Therefore,
according to the defendant, the motive that the Government is
citing to support Godiksen's specific intent to have his
ex-wife murdered does not exist. Neither characterization of
the events is entirely accurate, but what matters is what
Godiksen believed the situation was.
rational jury could find that based on the circumstance,
Godiksen's stated belief that his ex-wife had taken
everything from him in the divorce represented his true
belief, and that he therefore had motive to have her killed.
The assertion that Godiksen lost everything in the divorce is
not an entirely accurate portrayal of the terms of
Godiksen's divorce from his ex-wife and the circumstance
that resulted from it. The defendant had ownership rights of
certain pieces of property following the divorce but did not
retain actual possession of said property. For example, the
defendant retained the rights to his Corvette after the
divorce, but it was located at his ex-wife's home. [ECF
No. 145 at 95:4-6]. The defendant was unable to retrieve the
Corvette because he was not allowed on his ex-wife's
property due to a protection order. See Id. at
93:2-7, 94:8-15. Therefore, although Godiksen did have
ownership rights to his Corvette, he did not have access to
it due to a condition imposed upon him by the Court and his
ex-wife. This jury could find that Godiksen's stated
belief that his ex-wife took everything from him was his true
belief, based on the circumstances. This, in turn, supports a
rational jury finding beyond a reasonable doubt that Godiksen
had the specific intent to have his ex-wife murdered during
the initial phone call.
Evidence of Godiksen's Diminished Capacity's Role in
Determining his Intent.
Defendant's principal arguments is that a rational jury
could not have found that the defendant had the requisite
intent to engage in murder for hire when he spoke with
D'Angelo over the phone in the initial phone call, given
the nature of the cognitive deficits he suffers. The Court
disagrees. The evidence presented was sufficient that a
rational jury could find beyond a reasonable doubt that the
defendant had the specific intent to have his ex-wife
murdered at the time of the initial conversation with
trial, Godiksen testified that he was
“intoxicated” during the first phone call with
D'Angelo and was generally an alcoholic. [ECF No. 147 at
196:2-12]. Defendant's witness Dr. Madelon Baranoski, a
psychologist, testified that she noted in the defendant
several “deficits” associated with Godiksen's
“alcohol-type decline in cognitive ability.” [ECF
No. 147 at 79:10-11]. Dr. Baranoski reported diminished
judgment and increased impulsivity, id. at 79:21,
difficulty sequencing, id. at 81:3, difficulty
staying on target and recalling events in organized way,
id. at 81:4-5, difficulty putting together a plan
and following through, id. at 79:21-22, and
“confabulation, ” meaning that he fills in
cognitive gaps with inaccurate information. Id. at
other hand, Dr. Baranoski saw no signs of a psychiatric
disorder or delusional thinking. Id. at 81:20-21.
Dr. Baranoski explained that alcoholics are sometimes capable
of high functioning. According to her testimony, some
alcoholics can get themselves to work and conduct bank
transactions. Id. at 107:9-19. Dr. Baranoski further
testified that alcoholics can form the desire to commit a
crime. Id. at 108:7-10. She testified that Godiksen
did not receive special accommodations while in prison,
id. at 108:11-109:3, and that there was no reason to
doubt that Godiksen was competent to stand trial, understood
what was going on, and retained the ability to communicate
with his attorney regarding their course of action.
Id. at 136:6-16.
Dr. Baranoski described Godiksen's condition as a mild
impairment. Id. at 136:17-137:2. She further
testified that even with his minor impairment, Godiksen is
capable of rational thought, knows right from wrong,
id. at 137:15-21, and can form a plan to commit a
crime, although it may not be a realistic plan. Id.
at 138:8-16. Notably, Dr. Baranoski stated that Godiksen can
form the desire to commit a criminal act. Id. at
108:7-10; 137:22-138:7; 139:2-8. For example, she agreed that
Godiksen can form the desire to rob a bank. Id. at
138:17-22. In sum, she testified that Godiksen had the
capacity to form the intent to kill his wife but not the
ability to carry out a good plan, making his decision to hire
D'Angelo more credible. Moreover, the jury heard him
advising D'Angelo when, where and how to murder his
ex-wife further demonstrating his ability not only to harbor
the intent but to compose a plan to murder.
testimony of Dr. Baranoski, Godiksen's expert, leaves
open the possibility that Godiksen's statements and
actions were representative of his specific intent to have
his ex-wife murdered and were not a product or manifestation
of his diminished capacity as Godiksen argues. A rational
jury could conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that based on
Dr. Baranoski's testimony, Godiksen's statements in
the initial phone call with D'Angelo were an accurate
representation of Godiksen's specific intent to have his
ex-wife murdered, despite his claimed alcoholism.
addition to Dr. Baranoski's testimony, Godiksen testified
that he was intoxicated when he made incriminating statements
about killing his ex-wife, and that due to his intoxication
he could not fully appreciate the gravity of the conversation
he had with D'Angelo. [ECF No. 145 at 195:22-196:18,
197:5-6]. But the Government presented testimony of
D'Angelo and Special Agent Ross (“Ross”),
D'Angelo's supervising ATF case agent, that countered
this argument. Both men stated that they had the proper
training to detect intoxication but did not detect
intoxication in Godiksen during the investigation. See
Id. at 26:4-11, 67:14-15, 111:13-22, 114:4-7]. Moreover,
Godiksen does not appear intoxicated in the surveillance
video post-arrest. Government Exhibits 32. A rational jury
could have concluded beyond a reasonable doubt, based on the
Government agents' testimony, that Godiksen was not
intoxicated, and therefore intoxication was not a factor in
deciding whether Godiksen had the specific intent that his
ex-wife be murdered as a result of his conversation with
addition, the jury heard Godiksen's own words and was in
a position to decide for themselves whether he had the mental
capacity to formulate the intent to hire someone to kill his
ex-wife based on the tenor as well as the content of his
words. Moreover, to the extent his speech pattern was
aberrant, Dr. Baranowski's explanation of the effects of
alcoholism in general, and on Mr. Godiksen in particular,
enabled them to formulate an informed decision as to his
Dr. Baranoski's testimony, the Government agents'
testimony, the circumstances surrounding Godiksen's
divorce, and Godiksen's statements and the actions he
took after the initial phone call with D'Angelo are such
that a rational jury could find beyond a reasonable doubt
that Godiksen's statements during the initial phone call
were an accurate representation of his specific intent to
have his ex-wife murdered.
There was Sufficient Evidence for the Jury to Find Beyond a
Reasonable Doubt that the Pecuniary Value Element of 18
U.S.C. § 1958 was Satisfied
payment for the murder-for-hire need not occur to satisfy the
pecuniary value element of the murder for hire statute.
Babilonia, 854 F.3d at 174 (“As the wording of
the statute makes clear, there must be the intent that a
murder be committed as ‘consideration' for the
payment of, or promise or agreement to pay,
something of ‘pecuniary value.'”) (quoting 18
U.S.C. § 1958(a) (emphasis added)). Thus, a promise to
exchange a pecuniary value for the murder suffices to satisfy
the statutory pecuniary value requirement.
argues that the pecuniary value element is not satisfied
because he bounced back and forth between different methods
of paying for D'Angelo's services, and that the two
therefore did not reach a mutual agreement on the murder for
hire. [ECF No. 151 at 29-31]. Godiksen cites
Hardwick, 523 F.3d at 100, where the Second Circuit
held that “[t]he promise of a future, unspecified
favor- in the absence of any evidence suggesting that either
party to the agreement had an understanding of what form such
a favor would take-does not constitute pecuniary value under
Section 1958.” Section 1958(b)(1) defines pecuniary
value as “anything of value in the form of money, a
negotiable instrument, a commercial interest, or anything
else the primary significance of which is economic
advantage.” 18 U.S.C. § 1958(b)(1). The question
is whether there was “any evidence” that
D'Angelo and Godiksen ever reached a mutual agreement to
exchange a pecuniary value for murder for hire. There was.
evidence indicates that the promise of payment required by
§ 1958 could have been satisfied in the first
conversation between Godiksen and D'Angelo. See
Government Exhibit 25, 26, 30. In that initial phone
conversation, D'Angelo and Godiksen loosely discussed the
prospect of payment with money, but do not discuss an amount.
Government Exhibit 25. Godiksen stated that he would have
money put in his account in order to make funds available to
pay for the job he and D'Angelo were talking about.
Id. Godiksen then said he didn't want to keep in
contact with D'Angelo unless he had the funds to pay for
the murder, then reassured D'Angelo that he did in fact
have the money to pay. Id. A rational jury could
have arrived at a conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt that
in this conversation the promise of future payment in
monetary form was enough that the promise of a pecuniary
value element was satisfied.
face-to-face meetings between Godiksen and D'Angelo
provide support for the jury's finding that the pecuniary
value element of 18 U.S.C. § 1958 was satisfied. In
their first face-to-face meeting, D'Angelo and Godiksen
are recorded discussing a $5000 price for the murder, as
proposed by D'Angelo. See Government Exhibit 26.
Godiksen said the $5000 price was fair. Id. Godiksen
later offered more money than the $5000, and D'Angelo
declined, opting to stick with the agreed upon price.
Id. To be sure, later in that conversation Godiksen
offered his vehicle as payment for the murder, but he then
reverted to the cash offer he and D'Angelo had previously
discussed. Id. After listening to this conversation,
a rational jury could have found beyond a reasonable doubt
that D'Angelo and Godiksen had confirmed the
murder-for-hire scheme in return for a promise of payment of
money made in their first phone call.
final conversation with D'Angelo, Godiksen reaffirmed
that he and D'Angelo had a deal in place: murder in
exchange for money. Government Exhibit 30. Godiksen was clear
that the deal was not murder in exchange for his car, stating
once more that he had changed his mind about offering the
car. Id. In response to D'Angelo telling him
that their conversation would be his final chance to cancel
their murder for hire, Godiksen fully guaranteed his promise
of payment. Id. The conversation D'Angelo and
Godiksen had in their final encounter could lead a rational
jury to conclude that there had been a formalization of the
arrangement between the two parties, and that therefore a
mutual agreement that the two parties would exchange money
for murder was established in their first telephone call and
confirmed in their last telephone call.
the conversations between Godiksen and D'Angelo could
lead a rational jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt
that there was a mutual agreement between the parties for the
murder-for-hire of Godiksen's ex-wife in exchange for the
promise of the payment of money. A reasonable jury could have
found that the promise to pay money was agreed upon at the
initial phone call between D'Angelo and Godiksen, and
that although Godiksen attempted to change the terms as the
conspiracy moved forward, the arrangement's agreed upon
monetary payment remained unchanged.
on the testimony presented at trial, a rational jury could
have concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant
used or caused D'Angelo to use a facility of interstate
commerce, with the intent that his ex-wife's murder take
place. A rational jury could also find beyond a reasonable
doubt that the defendant promised a pecuniary value, i.e.
money, in exchange for the murder-for-hire. For this reason,
Godiksen's Motion for Acquittal under Rule 29 is DENIED.
Motion for a New Trial
from the Rule 29 Motion for Acquittal, Godiksen moved for a
new trial, see Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure
33, for eight reasons. Godiksen argues that: (1) the weight
of the evidence did not support the jury's verdict; (2)
the Court's supplemental jury instruction regarding the
definition of intent was incorrect, and therefore lowered the
Government's burden of proof; (3) the Court mishandled a
jury note that requested replay of Dr. Baranoski's
cross-examination and rebuttal testimony; (4) the Court
improperly constructively amended the indictment to permit
the jury to convict on elements not alleged in the
indictment; (5) the Court improperly instructed the jury that
it could convict Godiksen despite their potential finding
that he was ‘mentally incapacitated'; (6)
prosecutorial misconduct caused unfair prejudice to Godiksen;
(7) the Court's denial of Godiksen's motion ...