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United States v. Harris

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

May 13, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ROBBY NAKIA HARRIS, Defendant-Appellant

Argued March 4, 2015.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit. No. 2:13-cr-20314--Denise Page Hood, District Judge.

ARGUED:

Brandy Y. Robinson, FEDERAL DEFENDER OFFICE, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellant.

Andrew Goetz, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Brandy Y. Robinson, FEDERAL DEFENDER OFFICE, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellant.

Susan E. Gillooly, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellee.

Before: CLAY, GILMAN, and SUTTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 444

CLAY, Circuit Judge.

Defendant Robby Harris appeals his conviction for mailing a threatening letter to United States Congresswoman Candice Miller, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 876(c). At trial, the government elicited testimony from three witnesses, each of whom identified Harris as the author of the letter based on their familiarity with his handwriting. On appeal, Harris argues that the witnesses' testimony violated Federal Rule of Evidence 701 and impermissibly encroached upon the jury's duty to determine whether Harris mailed the threatening letter. For the reasons that follow, we AFFIRM Harris' conviction and sentence.

I.

In October 2012, the district office of United States Congresswoman Candice Miller received a threatening letter. The author of the letter threatened, among other things, to kill Congresswoman Miller and members of her family if she did not send one million dollars. The letter was written in distinctive handwriting, and the

Page 445

return address was a residence in Pontiac, Michigan. Congresswoman Miller's office contacted the authorities, and the FBI began investigating.

FBI Special Agent Juan Herrera learned that the return address belonged to a woman named Cynthia Hiller. Agent Herrera interviewed Hiller, and she denied writing the letter. She explained to Agent Herrera that she believed that the letter was sent by Robby Harris, one of her neighbors in the apartment complex. Hiller provided Agent Herrera with two love letters that Harris had written and hand-delivered to her.

Hiller received the letters from Harris about a year prior to being interviewed by Agent Herrera. She had no interest in Harris and found the letters disturbing. After receiving the second letter, Hiller went to Harris' apartment, where he lived with his mother. She expressed to both of them that ...


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