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United States v. Shangreaux

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division

September 13, 2017





         Defendant Sonya Dubray filed a motion to sever her trial from that of her codefendant Katrina Shangreaux. (Docket 65). Ms. Shangreaux does not oppose Ms. Dubray's motion to sever. (Docket 70). The government filed its response resisting Ms. Dubray's motion. (Docket 74). Ms. Dubray submitted a reply brief. (Docket 77).

         Ms. Shangreaux and Ms. Dubray were indicted as co-defendants for the killing of two-year-old K.S on July 28, 2016. (Dockets 1-1 & 24). Ms. Dubray is Ms. Shangreaux's mother, and K.S. was Ms. Shangreaux's son. (Docket 1-1 at pp. 2-3). The superseding indictment against Ms. Shangreaux and Ms. Dubray consists of eight counts. (Docket 24). Counts one through four name Ms. Shangreaux only. Id. at pp. 2-3. Those charges include: count one, first degree murder; count two, assault resulting in serious bodily injury of a minor; count three, felony child abuse-aggravated battery of an infant; and count four, felony child abuse and neglect. Id. Counts five through eight advance charges against Ms. Dubray only. Id. at pp. 3-5. Those charges are: count five, tampering with evidence; count six, accessory to first degree murder; count seven, false statement; and count eight, misprision of a felony. Id.


         “When a defendant moves for a severance, a district court must first determine whether joinder is proper under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 8.” United States v. Darden, 70 F.3d 1507, 1526 (8th Cir. 1995). “If joinder is proper, the court still has discretion to order a severance under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 14.” These rules are to be ‘liberally construed in favor of joinder.' ” Id. (quoting United States v. Rimell, 21 F.3d 281, 288 (8th Cir. 1994)). The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit instructs “[j]oinder must be viewed on a case by case basis.” Haggard v. United States, 369 F.2d 968, 974 (8th Cir. 1966).

         “The propriety of joinder is to be determined from the face of the indictment. . . . The factual allegations in the indictment must be accepted as true.” United States v. Massa, 740 F.2d 629, 644 (8th Cir. 1984) (internal citations omitted), overruled on other grounds by United States v. Gardner, 447 F.3d 558, 560-61 (8th Cir. 2006); see also United States v. Wadena, 152 F.3d 831, 848 (8th Cir. 1998) (“An indictment must reveal on its face a proper basis for joinder.”).

         1. Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 8

         Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 8 provides:

(b) Joinder of Defendants. The indictment . . . may charge 2 or more defendants if they are alleged to have participated in the same act or transaction, or in the same series of acts or transactions, constituting an offense or offenses. The defendants may be charged in one or more counts together or separately. All defendants need not be charged in each count.

Fed. R. Crim. P. 8(b).

         Ms. Dubray argues Rule 8 is not met because the crimes charged against Ms. Shangreaux and Ms. Dubray are “crimes of a different nature and time.” (Docket 66 at p. 4). While Ms. Shangreaux “is charged with killing her son[, ]” Ms. Dubray highlights she faces charges for “tampering with evidence of the killing, lying to police about whether the child was potty trained, and assisting her daughter in avoiding arrest.” Id.

         The government contends the defendants' “behavior was so intertwined as to be the ‘same act' or ‘series of acts.' ” (Docket 74 at p. 3). In explaining what the government “anticipates the evidence will show[, ]” the government points out Ms. Dubray did not “arrive[] later, when the crime was complete, [to] clean[] up.” Id. at p. 2. The government asserts Ms. Dubray “was right in the middle of the scene while the abuse was ongoing, including when the [defendants] delayed in calling authorities . . . .” Id. at pp. 2-3. Quoting the Eighth Circuit, the government states Rule 8 “requires that there be some common activity involving all the defendants which embraces all the charged offenses, but it is not necessary that every defendant have participated in each act or transaction of the series.” Id. at p. 3 (quoting United States v. Andrade, 788 F.2d 521, 529 (8th Cir. 1986) (internal quotation marks omitted)).

         Ms. Dubray's reply claims Rule 8 is not satisfied because the only connection between her charges and Ms. Shangreaux's is that Ms. Dubray was “in the home when the crime occurred . . . .” (Docket 77 at p. 3). Ms. Dubray asserts the government's reliance on Andrade is misplaced because Andrade was a ...

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