United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION RE: MOTIONS TO SEVER (ECF NOS.
115, 124, 145)
A. DOOLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Dooley, United States District Judge Pending before the Court
are three motions to sever filed by defendants Luis Pitt
(“Pitt”), Pedro Carillo (“P.
Carillo”), and Josue Franco (“Franco”) in
this multi-defendant prosecution for Kidnapping, in violation
of 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a), and Conspiracy to Commit
Kidnapping, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1201(c). (ECF
Nos. 115, 124, 145.) For the reasons set forth in this
decision, the Motions to Sever are DENIED.
Allegations and Procedural History
brief, the Government alleges that the five defendants -
Pitt, Jonathan Otero (“Otero”), P. Carillo,
Anthony Carillo (“A. Carillo”), and Franco -
(collectively, the “Defendants”) are members of
the Almighty Latin King Nation (“Latin Kings”).
The Defendants allegedly conspired to kidnap, hold for
ransom, and expel the alleged victim (“Victim
A”) from the Latin Kings because of the nature
of one of his prior convictions.
effectuate this plan, Franco and A. Carillo allegedly lured
Victim A to Pitt's apartment under the pretext of smoking
marijuana on January 26, 2018. Upon arriving at Pitt's
apartment, Victim A found Pitt, Otero, and two other
individuals waiting inside. After one of the individuals left
the apartment, A. Carillo began questioning Victim A
concerning his criminal history while Pitt attempted to
access Victim A's criminal history using a tablet device.
Over time, the questioning became increasingly violent, with
Pitt, Otero, A. Carillo, and Franco beating Victim A. At one
point, the defendants who were present called P. Carillo, who
is alleged to be the current leader of the Latin Kings in
Hartford, to discuss the matter. Sometime thereafter, P.
Carillo arrived at the apartment with other unknown males.
Prior to P. Carillo's arrival, Victim A perceived Pitt to
be in charge. After P. Carillo and the other unknown males
arrived, they continued to assault Victim A over the course
of what Victim A estimates was multiple hours. The
perpetrators later instructed Victim A to call someone to
obtain money in exchange for his release. These ransom
negotiations ultimately ended when Victim A persuaded his
captors to let him go to his place of employment to obtain
the ransom money. Once inside, Victim A collapsed and
reported the incident to the employees, who called 911.
October 2, 2018, a grand jury returned an indictment charging
the five defendants, in relevant part, in Count One with
Kidnapping and in Count Two with Conspiracy to Commit
Kidnapping. Previously, Otero and Franco moved to
sever their cases because Pitt gave a post-arrest statement
to law enforcement in which he admitted to seeing Victim A at
his apartment with some of the Defendants on January 26,
2018. On March 20, 2019, the Court denied the motions without
prejudice because the Government represented that it did not
intend to use Pitt's statements in its case-in-chief.
3, 2019, Otero filed a pro se motion seeking to
dismiss his court appointed counsel and represent himself.
After a Faretta hearing,  the Court provided Otero
with additional time to consider whether he wished to proceed
pro se or receive substitute counsel. On May 13,
2019, Otero reiterated, via motion, his desire to proceed
pro se. After another Faretta hearing, the
Court granted the motion to proceed pro se and
appointed new standby counsel. Since then, Otero has filed
several discovery-related motions, a motion to disqualify the
undersigned, which was denied, and a motion to dismiss the
Indictment, which remains pending. These latter two motions
derive from a purported speedy trial violation in connection
with the scheduling of trial.
28, 2019 and August 5, 2019, respectively, Pitt and P.
Carillo moved to sever their trials from their co-defendants.
On August 12, 2019, P. Carillo further moved to continue the
trial date based on a scheduling conflict that has arisen for
his defense counsel. The Court denied the motion to continue
without prejudice at a status conference on August 20, 2019.
On August 23, 2019, Franco filed a motion joining in P.
Carillo's motion to sever.
of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure permits severance
of properly joined defendants, at the discretion of the trial
court, to avoid prejudice to a defendant or the government.
Fed. R. Crim. P. 14(a). Nevertheless, there is a strong and
well-settled preference that defendants who are indicted
together should be tried together. Zafiro v. United
States, 506 U.S. 534, 537 (1993); United States v.
Feyrer, 333 F.3d 110, 114 (2d Cir. 2003); see also
Richardson v. Marsh, 481 U.S. 200, 209 (1987)
(“Joint trials play a vital role in the criminal
justice system”). “This preference is
particularly strong where . . . the defendants are alleged to
have participated in a common plan or scheme.”
United States v. Salameh, 152 F.3d 88, 115 (2d Cir.
1998); see also United States v. Cardascia,
951 F.2d 474, 482 (2d Cir. 1991). As the Supreme Court has
It would impair both the efficiency and the fairness of the
criminal justice system to require . . . that prosecutors
bring separate proceedings, presenting the same evidence
again and again, requiring victims and witnesses to repeat
the inconvenience (and sometimes trauma) of testifying, and
randomly favoring the last-tried defendants who have the
advantage of knowing the prosecution's case beforehand. .
. . Even apart from these tactical considerations, joint
trials generally serve the interests of justice by avoiding
the scandal and inequity of inconsistent verdicts.
Richardson, 481 U.S. at 210.
defendant claiming prejudice by joinder must demonstrate
prejudice that is “sufficiently severe [as] to outweigh
the judicial economy that would be realized by avoiding
lengthy multiple trials.” United States v.
Lanza, 790 F.2d 1015, 1019 (2d Cir. 1986) (quoting
United States v. Panza, 750 F.2d 1141, 1149 (2d Cir.
1984)). District courts have wide discretion in deciding
whether to sever trials, and a defendant seeking review of
denial of severance under Rule 14 bears an ...