United States v. Parker, No. 20-1231 (7th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Schutt, her children, and her boyfriend were driving into her Fort Wayne apartment complex when the car was hit with bullets; one grazed her boyfriend's scalp. Schutt saw her ex-boyfriend, Parker, shooting, wearing a red hooded sweatshirt. Other witnesses agreed about the hoodie and seeing a long gun. The police found ammunition and a spent shell casing. A Ford Fusion in the parking lot had a red hoodie lying inside. Parker appeared with the keys to the Ford, which contained Parker’s debit card and paperwork and a rifle in the trunk with ammunition in the chamber.
Parker was charged as a felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1). The owner of the Ford testified that on the day of the shooting she loaned the car to Parker, among others; the keys in Parker's possession were the only keys to the vehicle. She had never before seen the gun. Parker’s counsel asked the crime scene investigator if he collected DNA samples from the gun. The district court prohibited the question under Federal Rule of Evidence 403, noting that Parker was not challenging the reliability of any specific investigative steps but was impermissibly arguing generally that the investigation was shoddy because it did not attempt DNA testing. The police department’s latent fingerprint examiner testified that he found no prints of value on the gun or magazine.
After his conviction, the court sentenced Parker to 114 months in prison. The district court and Seventh Circuit rejected a Confrontation Clause argument. It is beyond reasonable doubt that any exclusion of cross-examination about the DNA evidence did not contribute to the verdict obtained. The evidence of Parker’s guilt was overwhelming.