United States v. Norweathers, No. 17-1311 (7th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
In 2009, Norweathers was charged with transporting child pornography, 18 U.S.C. 2252A(a)(1) and possessing a computer containing images of child pornography, section 2252A(a)(5)(b). The FBI had executed a search warrant at an Illinois business, where Norweathers worked and found approximately 50 images of child pornography on a desktop computer at Norweathers’ workstation. They obtained a warrant to search an email account with the username “firstname.lastname@example.org,” which had sent two emails containing child pornography. Before trial, the government filed a notice of intent to offer evidence of other bad acts--an email exchange between email@example.com and another individual in which they discussed drugging and having sex with young boys-- to prove identity, intent, and motive. Norweathers argued that the uncharged emails were impermissible propensity evidence, and that their probative value was substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. The court held that they were admissible, to weaken Norweathers’ anticipated defense that a different person used his account to distribute pornographic material. FBI agents testified that Norweathers waived his Miranda rights; stated that he viewed and traded child pornography; and provided agents with his usernames and passwords. Norweathers’ counsel rejected a stipulation to redact and “sanitize” the uncharged emails before presenting them to the jury. The jury was instructed to consider the evidence only to decide the identity, motive, and knowledge of the person who sent the charged emails. The Seventh Circuit affirmed his conviction and sentence to 250 months’ imprisonment.