United States v. Torres

977 F.2d 321 (1992)

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United States v. Torres

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
977 F.2d 321 (1992)

  • Written by Arlyn Katen, JD

Facts

A federal jury convicted Dennis Torres (defendant) of intentionally threatening a federal witness, Diane Blas. At trial, Blas and Blas’s father testified that Torres had threatened to kill Blas in March 1991 because Torres knew that Blas had informed the federal government (plaintiff) that Torres was involved in a cocaine-distribution ring. The district court also admitted testimony about two 1989 events as other-act evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b), instructing the jury that the jury could consider the evidence solely as proof of Torres’s intent to retaliate against Blas. First, in April 1989, Torres retaliated against a man who Torres believed had stolen Torres’s television by confronting and shooting at the man at a car wash. Second, in September 1989, a police officer responded to a street fight, heard gunshots nearby, and learned from witnesses that two cars had been involved in a shooting. Within an hour, the officer stopped Torres’s car because it matched the witnesses’ description. Police recovered a .22-caliber revolver from the driver’s area of Torres’s car and charged Torres with carrying concealed weapons. A .22 clip found at the scene of the street fight matched the revolver. The trial court determined that jurors could infer from Torres’s September 1989 arrest that the shooting was retaliation for the street fight. Torres appealed from his federal conviction, arguing in relevant part that the court had erred by admitting the other-act evidence.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Coffey, J.)

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