United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Defendant, Julius Lawson, is serving a sentence for his role
in attempting to rob a person having custody of mail matter,
money, or property of the United States, 18 U.S.C. §
2114(a), using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of
violence, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), and interfering with the
performance of duties of an employee of the United States, 18
U.S.C. § 111(a)(1).This matter is before the Court on
the Defendant's Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to
Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal
Custody [ECF No. 135].
December 19, 2012, at around 3:30 PM, two men entered the
Diplomat Plaza Post Office located in Fort Wayne, Indiana,
and attempted to rob items from inside the Post Office. An
investigation led to the arrest of the Defendant as one of
January 23, 2013, the Government filed an Indictment [ECF No.
18] charging the Defendant with attempting to rob a person
having custody of any mail matter, money, or property of the
United States and aiding and abetting, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 2114(a) and 18 U.S.C. § 2 (Count 1); use
of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence
and aiding and abetting, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
924(c) and 18 U.S.C. § 2 (Count 2); and interference
with the performance of the duties of an employee of the
United States and aiding and abetting, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 111(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2 (Count 3).
Court conducted a five-day jury trial, which began on May 14,
2013, and concluded on May 21 when the jury returned verdicts
of guilty as to all three counts.
jury heard testimony from witnesses who were inside the post
office during the attempted robbery. Testimony from a
customer revealed that one of the men (the
“gunman”) held a gun on her while the other (the
“counter-jumper”) jumped over the counter to get
behind the clerk stations. The Government presented evidence
to support its theory that the Defendant was the counter
jumper. A postal employee and window clerk, Cathy Weigold,
observed the two subjects when they first entered the
customer P.O. box lobby area through the front door. She
locked eyes with the counter-jumper. As he entered the
customer lobby area where Weigold was working, she saw him
pull a mask up from under his chin area, covering his mouth
up to the bridge of his nose. Weigold ran into the
manager's office, where she and two other employees
barricaded themselves until police arrived. She continued to
watch the events on a monitor located inside the office and
Hunter was a customer inside the post office when the men
entered. The gunman stated “I have a gun” and
pointed a gun at her midsection while standing within
arm's reach. The counter-jumper walked over to Hunter and
rummaged through her purse and wallet, but he took nothing.
The gunman then directed Hunter to turn around and kneel in
front of him. Hunter then saw the Defendant jump over the
middle counter. She witnessed him jump back over and leave
with his accomplice.
watching the surveillance monitor from the manager's
office, Weigold observed the counter-jumper jump the middle
counter, then stand in front of the partition located behind
the window clerk stations. He went both directions from the
partition, including the side where the Manager's office
is located. Behind the counter were items of value and cash.
photos show the counter jumper placing his left hand on the
counter as he vaulted over it. Surveillance photos also show
the gunman and Hunter watching the counter-jumper as he jumps
over the counter and then back again before they flee. Hunter
remained crouched down on the floor and called 911, twice.
During her second call, she relayed that a cell phone located
on the counter was going off, and that it had not been there
arrived and secured the scene. While police were
investigating the scene, the cell phone began to ring. Postal
Inspector Kathryn Maxwell viewed the phone's display,
which showed a ten-digit number ending in 1880 and read
“Violet.” The calls being received were from a
phone registered to Violet Hanson, the mother of Lawson's
son. That same day, Postal Inspector Andrew Gottfried went to
Hanson's residence. While there, he saw the Defendant and
another man. Hanson consented to a search of her cell phone.
There were seven outgoing calls made to Lawson's phone on
the day of the attempted robbery.
December 20, FWPD Detective Gary Morales conducted a forensic
examination of the cell phone dropped on the counter and
determined that the dialing number on the phone was
260-246-8662 with the IMSI number as 310260547716993. The
name Violet with number 260-443-1880 was one of the contacts
stored in the phone. The phone also contained photographs of
an individual taking pictures of himself with the cell phone.
The metadata information indicated that the pictures were
taken on December 13, 14, 16 and 17, 2012. Inspector
Gottfried later identified the individual in those
photographs as the Defendant.
Johnson, Custodian of Records for T-Mobile, also testified at
the trial. She explained that the subscriber record
information for the prepaid cell phone (recovered from the
postal counter) was in the name of Julius Lawson with mobile
number 260-246-8662 and IMSI number 310260547716993. The call
detail records for the Defendant's phone for the month of
December reflected numerous calls and text messages made to
and received from Violet Hanson's cell phone number. The
T-Mobile call detail records also reflected a call to the
Diplomat Plaza Post Office.
Detective Joel Slygh testified that he conducted a forensic
examination of Hanson's cell phone. The forensic
examination report confirmed that the phone number associated
with Hanson's phone was in fact 260-443-1880.
Hanson's phone ...