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United States v. Gray

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

February 4, 2005, Argued ; April 29, 2005, Decided

No. 02-4990

Opinion

 [*230]  SHEDD, Circuit Judge:

A grand jury indicted Josephine Gray on five counts of mail fraud and three counts of wire fraud relating to her receipt of insurance proceeds following the deaths of her second husband and a former paramour. Gray was convicted on all counts, and the district court sentenced [**2]  her to 40 years' imprisonment, three years of supervised release, restitution in the amount of $ 170,000, and a special assessment of $ 800. Gray now challenges her conviction, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to prove the elements of the charged offenses; the district court improperly permitted the Government to reopen its case to prove the alleged mailings; and the district court improperly admitted "other crimes" and hearsay evidence against Gray. We find no reversible error on these grounds and affirm Gray's conviction. We vacate Gray's sentence, however, and remand this case for resentencing consistent with the Supreme Court's recent decision in  United States v. Booker, 160 L. Ed. 2d 621, 125 S. Ct. 738 (2005).

Wilma Jean Wilson met Gray in the late summer of 2000, and the two became friends. 1 They spoke over the telephone, and Wilson sometimes visited Gray's house. During one of those visits, Gray was busy cleaning a cluttered room and Wilson offered to help. As they were talking, Gray stopped cleaning and left the room briefly; when she returned, she brought newspaper articles describing her prior arrests. In fact, those articles reported that [**3]  Gray had killed her former husbands. Wilson asked if the reports were true, and Gray replied that she was going to tell Wilson something she had never told anyone before and she did not want Wilson to say anything about it. In an emotionless, matter-of-fact manner, Gray then told Wilson that "she had killed both her husbands and another gentleman." J.A. 144.

 [*231]  Gray told Wilson that she had killed her first husband, Norman Stribbling, because she was tired of being abused by him. According to Wilson, "she told me that they had gone out for a ride and that she had shot him. … She left the body over on River Road, and it was set up to look like it was a robbery." J.A. 145. Gray then confessed to Wilson that she had also killed her second husband, William "Robert"  [**4]  Gray. Although Gray said she was alone with Stribbling when she killed him, "she had help" killing Robert Gray. J.A. 146. The help came from Clarence Goode, Gray's cousin and boyfriend. Gray explained to Wilson that Goode "had tried to blackmail her," demanding money in exchange for his silence about the murder of Robert Gray, so "she had to get rid of him too." J.A. 147.

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405 F.3d 227 *; 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 7439 **; 67 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. (Callaghan) 130

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. JOSEPHINE VIRGINIA GRAY, a/k/a Josephine Stribbling, a/k/a Josephine Mills, Defendant-Appellant.

Subsequent History: US Supreme Court certiorari denied by Gray v. United States, 546 U.S. 912, 126 S. Ct. 275, 163 L. Ed. 2d 245, 2005 U.S. LEXIS 6734 (2005)

Appeal after remand at United States v. Gray, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 25736 (4th Cir. Md., Nov. 5, 2007)

Prior History:  [**1]  Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Greenbelt. (CR-01-566). Deborah K. Chasanow, District Judge.

United States v. Gray, 189 F. Supp. 2d 279, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1889 (D. Md., 2002)

Disposition: Affirmed in part, vacated in part and remanded.

CORE TERMS

district court, murder, sentence, killed, insurance company, benefits, Counts, declarant, mailed, reopen, unavailable, mail fraud, wrongdoing, defraud, pleadings, insurance policy, mortgage, Guidelines, indictment, affirming, procure, vacated, forfeiture-by-wrongdoing, case-in-chief, involvement, contends, argues, interpleader action, insurance benefits, present evidence

Criminal Law & Procedure, Standards of Review, Substantial Evidence, General Overview, Appeals, Fraud, Wire Fraud, Elements, Fraud Against the Government, Mail Fraud, Banking Law, Criminal Offenses, Bank Fraud, Federal Acts, Contracts Law, Personal Property, Rights of Possessors, Governments, Fiduciaries, Torts, Fraud & Misrepresentation, Nondisclosure, Business Torts, Civil Procedure, Pleadings, Interpleader, De Novo Review, Trials, Motions for Acquittal, Harmless & Invited Error, Burdens of Proof, Prosecution, Plain Error, Judicial Discretion, Abuse of Discretion, Evidence, Evidence, Relevance, Preservation of Relevant Evidence, Exclusion & Preservation by Prosecutors, Admissibility, Conduct Evidence, Prior Acts, Crimes & Wrongs, Exclusion of Relevant Evidence, Confusion, Prejudice & Waste of Time, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, Right to Confrontation, Witnesses, Unavailability, Hearsay, Exceptions, Unavailability, Rule Application & Interpretation, Legislation, Interpretation, Absence of Declarants, Definition of Plain Error, Procedural Matters, Rulings on Evidence, Sentencing, Plain Error, Imposition of Sentence, Findings, Miscellaneous Offenses, Gambling, Penalties, Sentencing Guidelines