Submitted: June 15, 2018
from United States District Court for the Northern District
of Iowa - Dubuque
LOKEN, GRUENDER, and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.
ERICKSON, Circuit Judge.
a three-day bench trial, the district court found Antrell
Desharron Lewis guilty of one count of conspiracy to
distribute a mixture or substance containing heroin and
furanylfentanyl resulting in death and serious bodily injury,
in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 813, 841(a)(1),
841(b)(1)(C), and 846; and one count of distribution of a
mixture or substance containing heroin and furanylfentanyl
resulting in death and serious bodily injury, in violation of
21 U.S.C. §§ 813, 841(a)(1), and 841(b)(1)(C). The
court sentenced Lewis to concurrent terms of 252 months'
imprisonment to be followed by concurrent three-year terms of
appeal, Lewis argues the evidence was insufficient to support
the convictions because (1) other individuals might have
distributed the heroin laced with furanylfentanyl that caused
the death and/or serious bodily injuries; (2) the government
failed to establish "but-for" causation due to the
intervening act of redistribution by another individual; (3)
no conspiracy existed between Lewis and the individual who
distributed the drugs to the victims; and (4) the government
failed to prove Lewis knowingly distributed an analogue of a
controlled substance. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1291, we affirm.
Manning testified that for about two months prior to March 2,
2016, he had been obtaining heroin from Lewis in Dubuque,
Iowa. Manning usually conducted a couple of transactions with
Lewis each week involving half gram or gram quantities. He
was sometimes joined by his friend Jeremy Nadermann on these
trips to Dubuque.
to Manning's testimony, on March 2, 2016, he contacted
Lewis about obtaining five grams of heroin on a
"front." Manning asked Nadermann to go with him
because Manning did not have a vehicle. Manning intended to
give one or two grams of heroin to Nadermann for letting him
use a car to make the trip.
and Manning joined by two other individuals, Michael
Vanamburg and Anthony Kelly, drove to Dubuque for the purpose
of obtaining heroin. Manning testified he gave Lewis $200 in
proceeds from Manning's sale of previously-fronted
heroin. Manning explained at trial that five grams was the
largest quantity he had received from Lewis in a single
transaction. Nadermann confirmed during his testimony that a
meeting was arranged with Lewis on March 2, 2016, to obtain
heroin. Nadermann added that there was some discussion about
the four of them pooling their money together to obtain a
larger amount of heroin, which they would then divide into
portions. According to Manning, Lewis agreed to front five
grams of heroin to him for $800.
Manning received the heroin, Nadermann requested the group
drive to Jeremy Stierman's residence in Dubuque. Manning
testified that he and Nadermann went inside Stierman's
apartment while Vanamburg and Kelly stayed in the car.
Manning weighed out one or two grams of heroin for Nadermann
and a "50 bag" (about 0.2 grams) for Vanamburg.
Manning put the rest in a bag. After dividing the heroin into
portions, Manning and Nadermann returned to the vehicle to
get high. Manning gave Vanamburg the "50 bag."
Manning used a spoon and water to prepare a liquid mixture
and drew some of it into a syringe for his use, and then gave
the spoon to Kelly so he could use what was left.
testified that he believed the substance he received from
Lewis on March 2, 2016, was more potent than what he usually
received. He described feeling a more intense high. Nadermann
testified that he used some of the heroin Manning received
from Lewis that evening and experienced a "strong weird
feeling" but did not lose consciousness. In a very short
period of time after using the heroin inside the vehicle,
Manning noticed that Kelly was unresponsive in the backseat.
Manning and Nadermann attempted to revive Kelly. When they
were unsuccessful, Manning took his portion of heroin back to
Stierman's apartment and called 911. During the emergency
call, Nadermann advised Manning that Vanamburg, too, was
emergency responders arrived on scene, Manning testified that
he saw Nadermann throw what Manning believed to be a syringe
and Nadermann's portion of the heroin into a snowbank.
Emergency responders, suspecting opiate overdoses, testified
they administered Narcan and revived both Kelly and
Vanamburg. Once alert, Kelly and Vanamburg were transported
to the hospital in ambulances. Dr. Joshua Pruitt, an
emergency room physician, the deputy medical examiner for
Linn County, Iowa, and the chief medical examiner for Cedar
County, Iowa, testified at trial. Dr. Pruitt testified that,
upon review of the evidence, it was his opinion that Kelly
was rendered unconscious because of an opiate overdose and
that Kelly was at serious risk of death without medical
intervention. Dr. Pruitt also testified that Vanamburg faced
the same risks and that Vanamburg would not have been in that
situation without the use of an opiate. Dr. Pruitt noted that
Vanamburg had been prescribed Oxycodone, but discounted the
possibility that Vanamburg's overdose was caused by the
prescription medication, as he was using it as directed and
the frequency dosage would not cause the effects Vanamburg
experienced. Dr. Pruitt opined that Oxycodone was not the
cause of Vanamburg's overdose.
the search of the vehicle, law enforcement officers found a
metal spoon containing some residue and a small cotton swab.
The items were sent to the crime lab for testing. The lab
report indicated the substance on the spoon was heroin and
furanylfentanyl. In the rear passenger door pocket, officers
found a small plastic baggie with a white rock substance. The
lab report indicated the ...