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United States v. Veltmann

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

July 12, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
CHRISTOPHER P. VELTMANN. v.

          ORDER

          ELIZABETH A. KOVACHEVICH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This cause is before the Court on:

Dkt. 401 Motion for A Certificate of Innocence
Dkt. 402 Motion for Summary Judgment

         Defendant Christopher P. Veltmann, pro se, requests that the Court grant Defendant's Motion for a Certificate of Innocence.

         Defendant Veltmann asserts that he is seeking relief under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1495 and 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2513 in the amount of $245, 760.06, and all other costs, fees, interest and other appropriate relief. Defendant Veltmann states that he was arrested on October 17, 1991, and released on September 13, 1996, when a jury found him innocent of all crimes listed on the indictment.

         I. Background

         Defendant Christopher P. Veltmann was tried in a jury trial before the Hon. Nicholas Tsoucalas, United States District Judge, and found guilty on Counts 1, 2-19, 20-29 on March 13, 1992. (Dkt. 79).

         Defendants Carl Veltmann and Christopher Veltmann appealed their convictions and sentences. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part; the case was remanded for a new trial on December 9, 1993. (Dkt. 138).

         On appeal, the Veltmanns asserted that there was insufficient evidence to support findings of guilt, alleging error in the trial court's denial of their timely motions for acquittal. As to this issue, the Eleventh Circuit stated:

We must, of course, view the evidence in a light most favorable to the government...We cannot agree with defendants. The evidence admitted regarding the smoke detector and alarm systems, statements made to cellmates, defendants' inconsistent statements about their actions that evening, Carl's commentary about how to commit arson, and the previous fires on Veltmann property precludes a finding based on the evidence before them a jury could not have found Carl and Chris Veltmann guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

U.S. v. Veltmann. 6 F.3d 1483, 1491 (11th Cir. 1993).

         The Veltmanns appealed the exclusion of Carl Engstrom's videotaped deposition from the trial. Defendants offered the deposition as relevant hearsay, admissible pursuant to Fed. R. Ev. 803(3), reflecting Elizabeth Veltmann's state of mind. The Eleventh Circuit found that the deposition was admissible under the state of mind exception, and while conceivably cumulative, its import was such that exclusion violated Defendants' right to put on a defense, requiring reversal. Veltmann. 6 F.3d at 1493.. The Eleventh Circuit explained that the evidence was relevant because it contained not merely references to suicide, but information pertinent to [Elizabeth Veltmann]'s desperate mental condition regarding finances on the date of her death. Veltmann. 6 F.3d at 1495. The Eleventh Circuit further determined that the evidence was not cumulative; no other witness brought to the jury that aspect of decedent's financial desperation arising from the end of a successful, long-term blackmail. Veltmann. 6 F.3d at 1495.

         The Eleventh Circuit analyzed the prior fires evidence, which was admitted over Defendants' objections; the Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part as to the prior fires evidence. The Eleventh Circuit found that Defendants' statements to the insurance investigator as to any previous fires on property owned by the Veltmanns' were not in furtherance of the charged offense, Veltmann at 1498, and did not meet the threshold level of relevance for ...


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