United States v. Calvin Starr, No. 22-2331 (8th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
While on supervised release after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, Defendant reportedly assaulted his girlfriend and therefore violated the conditions of his release. At the ensuing revocation hearing, the government did not call Defendant’s girlfriend to testify but instead related her statements through a different witness. The district court revoked Defendant’s supervised release and sentenced him to 24 months. Defendant maintains that the government's introduction of this hearsay denied him his due-process right to confront adverse witnesses.
The Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that any error the district court may have committed in allowing the government to introduce this hearsay was harmless. The court reasoned that Defendant’s admission that he participated in a physical altercation with his girlfriend, coupled with the apparent injuries that resulted and the threatening messages sent in the immediate aftermath, supports a reasonable inference that he intentionally or knowingly committed the assault. Thus, the government has offered sufficient evidence apart from the girlfriend’s statements to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Defendant committed a grade A violation of the conditions of his supervision.