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United States v. Mathews

United States District Court, D. Colorado

October 24, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
1. VINCENT SCOTT MATHEWS, Defendant.

          ORDER SUSTAINING IN PART AND OVERRULING IN PART DEFENDANT'S RULE 404(B) OBJECTIONS

          William J. Martinez, United States District Judge.

         On April 25, 2017, the Government filed its notice of the potential Rule 404(b) evidence it plans to use against Defendant Vincent Scott Mathews (“Mathews”). (ECF No. 83.) Currently before the Court is Mathews's Objection to Admission of the Government's Proffered Rule 404(b) Evidence. (ECF No. 94.) For the reasons explained below, Mathews's objections are sustained in part and overruled in part.

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b)(1), the admission of evidence of a crime or “bad act” to prove a person's character “in order to show that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character” is precluded from the jury's purview. Such evidence may be admissible for other purposes, however, “such as proving motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident.” Fed.R.Evid. 404(b)(2). Even so, “[t]he court may exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of . . . unfair prejudice.” Fed.R.Evid. 403.

         Given all of this, the Tenth Circuit has stated the Rule 404(b) analysis in terms of a four-part inquiry:

Four general requirements emanating from Rule 404(b) and other relevancy rules must be met before evidence of prior acts will be admissible: (1) the evidence must be offered for a proper purpose under Rule 404(b); (2) the evidence must be relevant; (3) the trial court must make a Rule 403 determination that the probative value of the similar acts evidence is not substantially outweighed by its potential for unfair prejudice; and (4) under Rule 105, the trial court must, upon request, instruct the jury that the evidence of similar acts is to be considered only for the proper purpose for which it was admitted.

United States v. Joe, 8 F.3d 1488, 1495 (10th Cir. 1993).

         II. BACKGROUND

         On August 24, 2011, two African-American males disguised with face paint robbed a Denver jewelry store at gunpoint. (ECF No. 83 at 4; see also ECF No. 94 ¶ 1.) Eight days later, Mathews and his wife were stopped for speeding in Utah, and the police discovered a stolen pistol in the car along with jewelry traced to the August 24 robbery. (ECF No. 83 at 4.) The following year, Mathews was convicted in Colorado state court of possessing stolen property worth more than $20, 000. (Id. at 3-4.) He was released to a halfway house “in early 2015.” (Id. at 4.)

         On July 13, 2015, two African-American males with bandannas covering their faces robbed a Denver pawn shop at gunpoint. (Id. at 2.) Federal agents began investigating this robbery, which they considered related to allegedly similar robberies committed in 2012, 2013, 2014, and earlier in 2015. (Id.)

         Mathews progressed from the halfway house to home detention in September 2015. (Id. at 4.) At that time, Mathews was not required to wear a GPS ankle monitor.

         On October 4, 2015, two African-American males and one African-American female wearing ski masks robbed an Edgewater, Colorado, pawnshop at gunpoint. Two days later, Mathews received a GPS ankle monitor-but not because he had become a suspect in the pawn shop robberies. Rather, he had become a suspect in a May 2015 drive-by shooting, thus prompting his parole officer to impose a GPS condition. (Id. at 4.) No charges have ever been filed against Mathews regarding that drive-by shooting. (Id.)

         Nonetheless, Mathews did become a suspect in the pawn shop robberies not long after, apparently some time between October and December 2015. (See id. at 2- 3.) Federal agents had identified pieces of jewelry at other pawnshops confirmed to have been stolen in the July and October 2015 robberies, located the individuals who re-pawned those items, and learned from them that “[Mathews], along with others, had provided the jewelry to these individuals so that it could be pawned on his behalf.” (Id. at 3.)

         On December 1, 2015, two African-American males wearing masks and hats robbed a Denver pawnshop at gunpoint. (Id.) On March 23, 2016, three African-American males wearing masks and hooded sweatshirts robbed an Aurora, Colorado, pawnshop at gunpoint. (Id.)

         Around this time, the investigating agents learned that Mathews had been on GPS monitoring since the previous October. They checked his historical GPS data and discovered that Mathews “arrived and left the scene of the December [2015] and March [2016] robberies at the same time as the robbers were seen to arrive and depart on the security cameras.” (Id. at 4.) “They also found that [Mathews] was in the ...


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