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United States v. Walker

657 F.3d 160 (2011)

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United States v. Walker

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

657 F.3d 160 (2011)

Facts

Brothers Barron and Barry Walker (defendants) robbed a drug dealer, Edward Wright, for a small amount of cash and crack cocaine in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Wright claimed that it was the first time he had ever sold drugs. Wright had purchased $60 of cocaine and, at the time of the robbery, had made a single sale for $40 to $50. The Walkers were charged under the Hobbs Act, a federal statute that made it a federal crime to commit a robbery or extortion affecting interstate commerce. At trial, local police chief John Goshert gave expert testimony that cocaine sold in Harrisburg originated outside Pennsylvania and was transported into the state. Goshert based this opinion on his 30 years of experience investigating drug trafficking in the Harrisburg area. The Walkers were convicted and appealed, arguing that (1) the evidence did not show that their robbery affected interstate commerce and (2) Goshert’s expert testimony should have been excluded as unreliable because he did not know whether the stolen cocaine was synthetic, in which case it could have been made inside Pennsylvania.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Pollak, J.)

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