United States v. Gurrola, No. 17-50325 (5th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for three counts of conspiracy to kill in a foreign country and four counts of conspiracy to cause travel in foreign commerce in the commission of murder-for-hire. Defendant was the leader of the Velasco Gurrola Criminal Enterprise (VCE). The court held that defendant's Sixth Amendment rights were not violated during voir dire; the court rejected defendant's evidentiary rulings on hearsay objections; the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the government's evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence 403; the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion for a judgment of acquittal and/or a new trial where the government presented ample proof of overt acts supporting all seven convictions; the district court's omission of an explicit overt act instruction was not plain error; the court declined to invoke the cumulative error doctrine; and the district court did not err by amending the final restitution order more than 90 days after the sentencing hearing.