United States v. Natal, No. 15-94 (2d Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Defendants Natal and Morales appealed their sentences and convictions for crimes including arson resulting in death, accessory after the fact to arson, and destruction and concealment of evidence. The court held that testimony on how cell phone towers operate constitutes expert testimony and may not be introduced through a lay witness; the admission in the instant case of lay opinion testimony on the operation of cell phone towers was harmless; the court held that Morales's conviction for destruction and concealment of evidence must be vacated in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Yates v. United States, handed down shortly after Morales filed the instant appeal; the court remanded Morales's case to the district court to vacate Morales's conviction for destruction and concealment of evidence, and, pursuant to United States v. Powers, to conduct de novo resentencing of Morales; and, as part of the district court's calculation of Morales's Guidelines range at the resentencing, Morales's three counts of conviction for accessory after the fact should be grouped pursuant to USSG 3D1.2. The court rejected defendants' other claims. Accordingly, the court upheld all counts of conviction except Morales's conviction for destruction and concealment of evidence, and remanded for resentencing.