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United States of America v. Jenkins

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


April 2, 1999

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
SEAN LAMAS JENKINS, DOB 8/26/66 PDID 239-240 DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Deborah A. Robinson, United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OF FINDINGS OF FACT AND STATEMENT OF REASONS IN SUPPORT OF ORDER OF DETENTION

I. INTRODUCTION

Defendant is charged by criminal complaint with kidnaping in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1201. A consolidated preliminary hearing and detention hearing was conducted on this date. Upon consideration of the evidence adduced at the hearing, the proffers and arguments of counsel and the entire record herein, defendant was ordered held without bond pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e). The findings of fact and statement of reasons in support of the Order of Detention follow.

II. THE BAIL REFORM ACT

The Bail Reform Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. § 3141 et seq. (hereinafter "the Act"), provides in pertinent part, that if a judicial officer finds by clear and convincing evidence that "no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure . . . the safety of any other person and the community, such judicial officer shall order the detention of the [defendant] before trial." 18 U.S.C. §3142(e). Thus, danger to the community alone is a sufficient basis upon which to order pretrial detention. United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 755 (1987); United States v. Perry, 788 F.2d 100, 113 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 864 (1986); United States v. Sazenski, 806 F.2d 846, 848 (8th Cir. 1986).

Where the government seeks pretrial detention on the ground that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of defendant as required, it has the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant will flee before trial if released. United States v. Vortis, 785 F.2d 327, 328-29 (D.C. Cir.), cert. Denied, 479 U.S. 841 (1986). The judicial officer must determine that "it is more likely than not that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure an accused's appearance." United States v. Westbrook, 780 F.2d 1185, 1188-89 (5th Cir. 1986).

In determining whether there are conditions of release which will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person and the community, the judicial officer shall take into account the available information concerning (1) the nature and circumstances of the offense charged; (2) the weight of the evidence against the defendant; (3) the defendant's history and characteristics; and (4) the nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or to the community which would be posed by the defendant's release. See 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g).

III. DISCUSSION

The government's sole witness was Karen Nester, a special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation currently assigned to the Violent Crime Squad. Agent Nester's testimony paralleled the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint. Agent Nester testified that on March 29, 1999, Amtrak Police Officer C.A. George was on duty at Union Station, and received information from the Traveler's Aid Office about the sighting of a juvenile who had been reported missing, and who was then with a man later identified as defendant. The officer found defendant and the juvenile standing together near Gate K. The juvenile "slipped away" from defendant and ran to Officer George. Investigators subsequently determined that the juvenile was indeed the same juvenile who was reported missing on March 23; that he was afraid of defendant, and was not with him willingly; and that he was not related to or otherwise acquainted with the defendant.

After his arrest, defendant stated that he first approached the juvenile in a parking lot in Maryland, and falsely represented that he was a law enforcement officer. Defendant told the juvenile that he had to go with him, then grabbed the juvenile's arm and told him that "something bad would happen" if he did not go with him. Defendant said that he had taken the juvenile to several places in the District of Columbia and Maryland, and that he had sexually abused the juvenile on March 25. Defendant said that at the time of his arrest, he was attempting to take the juvenile to Florida. In a search after his arrest, two badges and a canister of pepper spray were found on defendant's person.

Counsel for the government proffered that the defendant has a 1986 conviction for possession of a concealed weapon; a 1985 conviction for escape; a 1994 conviction for sodomy on a child; and a 1995 conviction for a third-degree sex offense. Counsel further proffered that defendant has only "tenuous" ties to the community. Counsel for the government made a further proffer which is summarized in a supplemental memorandum filed on this date.

Defendant offered no evidence, and submitted on probable cause.

In opposition to the government's motion for pretrial detention, defendant proffered, through counsel, that he is a lifelong resident of the District of Columbia area, and that his address has been verified. Counsel asked that defendant be released on "the least restrictive conditions possible."

IV. FINDINGS OF FACT AND STATEMENT OF REASONS

Upon consideration of the factors enumerated at Section 3142(g) of the Act, the undersigned finds by a preponderance of the evidence that no condition of release or combination of conditions will reasonably assure defendant's appearance at trial, and by clear and convincing evidence that no condition of release or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the safety of the community.

First, the nature and circumstances of the offense charged bespeak acts of violence and depravity upon a youth.

Second, the undersigned finds the weight of the evidence virtually overwhelming. Defendant, at the time of his arrest, was in the company of the missing juvenile, and made statements admitting abducting, holding and sexually assaulting the juvenile. Evidence corroborating defendant's own account of the abduction was recovered from him after his arrest.

Third, the undersigned finds that the evidence with respect to defendant's history and characteristics militates against conditional release. Defendant has twice been convicted of sex offences; in at least one case, the victim was a juvenile. While defendant is a lifelong resident of this area and has some family ties, he was preparing to leave the area for Florida--with the juvenile victim--at the time of his arrest.

Finally, the nature of the danger to the community which would be posed by defendant's release is evident from defendant's record of repeated sexual offenses. Simply put, there is no basis upon which the undersigned could find that conditions of release could reasonably assure the safety of the community in general, and its most vulnerable members in particular.

V. CONCLUSION

On the basis of the foregoing findings of fact and reasons, defendant will be held without bond pursuant to the April 2, 1999 Order of Detention.

19990402

© 2000 VersusLaw Inc.



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