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United States v. Reaves

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

April 29, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
DARRELL LAVERN REAVES, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON FINAL HEARING IN RESPECT TO THE PETITION ALLEGING VIOLATIONS OF SUPERVISED RELEASE

          SHANIEK M. MAYNARD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         THIS CAUSE having come on to be heard for a final hearing in respect to the pending Petition Alleging Violations of Supervised Release [D.E. 907], and this Court having received testimony, evidence, and arguments of counsel, recommends to the District Court as follows:

         1. Defendant is charged by a Petition with the following violations of supervised release:

Violation Number 1

Violation of Mandatory Condition, by failing to refrain from violation of the law. On or about September 17, 2017 in Indian River County, Florida, the defendant did commit the offense of Battery-Domestic Violence [against A.W.], contrary to Florida Statute 784.O3(1)(C).

Violation Number 2

Violation of Mandatory Condition, by failing to refrain from violation of the law. On or about September 17, 2017 in Indian River County, Florida, the defendant did commit the offense of Battery-Domestic Violence [against J.T.], contrary to Florida Statute 784.O3(1)(C).

         2. The Court heard testimony on this matter on January 8, 2018 and January 16, 2018. The government called five witnesses including Defendant's former girlfriend, Amina Wilson, her daughter, J.T., U.S. Probation Officer Christina Williams, and two deputy sheriffs from the Indian River County Sheriffs Office, Cameron White and Wang Le. Defendant elected to testify in his own behalf. All of the witnesses testified about an incident that occurred on the night of September 16th into the early morning hours of September 17, 2017 at an apartment in Vero Beach, Florida where Defendant lived with Wilson, their four year old child, and Wilson's other three children. The incident resulted in Defendant being arrested and charged with two counts of battery/domestic violence. The incident occurred less than two months before Defendant's five year term of supervised release was scheduled to end. From a review of the docket in this matter, this appears to be the first violation of supervised release petition filed against Defendant during his entire time on supervised release.

         3. The government's first witness was Wilson's daughter, J.T. J.T. is 18 years old, but was a minor at the time of the alleged incident so the Court will use her initials throughout this report. J.T. testified that on the night of September 16, 2017, she heard her mother screaming "Please stop!" (1/8/18 Transcript at 12-13). J.T. ran into her mother's bedroom and saw Defendant with his fist balled up hitting her mother in the head. (Id. at 13-14). J.T. saw Defendant punch her mother two or three times. (Id.). J.T. tried to pull him off of her mother, saying "Mr. Darrell, just stop!" (Id.). When J.T. tried to intervene, Defendant slammed J.T. to the ground. (Id. at 14-15). J.T.'s mother then hit Defendant over the head with a wine bottle. (Id.). Defendant started bleeding "a lot" and went into the bathroom. (Id. at 16-17). When Defendant came out of the bathroom, he was "screaming and ranting" and destroyed the apartment-ripping and kicking down two doors, pulling the light fixture in the kitchen down, throwing a lamp, television, computer tower and monitor over, and shattering glass all over the floor. (Mat 17-29).

         4. The government introduced Exhibits 3 through 16, which are photographs taken by police on September 17th. (Id.). J.T. described these exhibits to the Court. Exhibit 3 shows glass all over the floor by the front door from candleholders Defendant broke that night. (Id. at 25). Exhibit 4 shows a lighting fixture in the kitchen torn down by Defendant. (Id. at 25-26). Exhibits 5 and 6 show a pantry door that Defendant ripped off the hinges. (Id.). Exhibit 7 shows the same pantry door, alongside a lamp thrown to the floor by Defendant. (Id. at 27). Exhibits 8 and 9 show a large television, computer tower and monitor knocked to the floor by Defendant. (Id. at 27-28). Exhibits 10 and 11 show the door to J.T.'s bedroom, which Defendant kicked down when J.T. and her mom fled there. (Id. at 28-29). Exhibits 12 and 13 show J.T. that night with blood on her hands. (Id. at 29). J.T. said the blood belonged to "Mr. Darrell, " who was "bleeding all over the place" after being hit with the wine bottle. (Id.). Exhibits 15 and 16 show Wilson holding her lip away from her face to show a bruise inside her mouth.[1] (Id. at 30). J.T. heard her mother tell the officers, "Look what he did to my lip." (Id. at 22.).

         5. The government introduced Exhibit 17, which is a written statement J.T. provided to police that night. (Id. at 30-31). J.T. wrote the statement on her own without assistance from anyone, including her mother, and did not review the statement prior to her testimony at the hearing. (Id.) J.T. wrote:

I was on the phone with a friend and all I heard was "Please stop hitting me." I ran in the room to see him on top of [my mother] hitting her. I grabbed him by the arm and told him to stop hitting my mom. He pushed me in the shoulder and told me to get the hell out. He then picked me up and slammed me on the floor hitting my head on the cabinet. My mom grabbed the bottle and hit him in the head. He trashed everything in the house. And kicked my bedroom door in. My mom was in the closet on the phone with the police and we were standing next to the closet to make sure he didn't get in. His name is Darrell Reaves.

         6. On cross-examination, defense counsel pointed out that J.T. initially said Defendant was standing over her mother with his fist balled up when J.T. entered the bedroom, but later said she saw Defendant hitting her mother when she came into the bedroom. (Id. at 35- 37). J.T. clarified that both statements were true-when she ran in, she saw Defendant with his fist balled up standing over her mother and punching her. (Id. at 38-40, 46). Defense counsel then suggested Amina Wilson hit Defendant with the wine bottle before J.T. ran into the bedroom. (Id. at 38). J.T. responded,

No. You are getting the story mixed up. I went into the bedroom, and he hit her two or three more times; and after that, I was grabbing him, telling him to 'stop, it is not worth it, ' and that's when he slammed me on the ground. When he got up and turned around, my mom hit him with the bottle.

(Id). Defense counsel asked why J.T. wrote in Exhibit 17 that she hit her head on a cabinet, but failed to mention that detail in her testimony. J.T. answered, "Well, now that you bring it up, yes, I did." (Id. at 40-41). Throughout J.T.'s cross-examination, counsel repeatedly attempted to re-characterize Defendant's conduct towards J.T. as a "push" or "shove, " but J.T. was adamant: "I keep saying 'slammed, ' but you keep changing it back." (Id. at 41).

         7. The government's next witness was J.T.'s mother, Amina Wilson. Due to the rule of sequestration, Wilson was not in the courtroom during her daughter's testimony. At first, Wilson testified that she called the police in the early morning hours of September 17th because Defendant hit her in the mouth. (Id. at 48-49, 55-56). A few moments later, however, Wilson re-characterized what happened between her and Defendant as "an argument and a scuffle, " in which she received "maybe a scratch or a scrape" on her lip. (Id. at 55-58). She said she did not remember Defendant touching anyone else in her family that night but acknowledged that "in the commotion" he probably did. (Id. at 56.) Wilson repeatedly told the prosecutor she could not remember any details. She acknowledged providing written statements to police and probation, and said she was truthful in those statements, but claimed she only gave probation a statement because the probation officer told her she "had to" come down and do so. (Id. at 62-63, 70-73).

         8. Wilson's written statements to police and probation were the subject of heated debate during the hearing and stand in stark contrast to her vague and contradictory statements on the witness stand. Government's Exhibit 1 is the written ...


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