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Eads v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

May 17, 2017




         This matter is before the Court on a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 filed by Petitioner, Christopher Justin Eads (“Eads”). For the reasons explained in this Entry, the Motion is denied and the action dismissed with prejudice. In addition, the Court finds that a certificate of appealability should not issue.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Christopher Eads was charged with possession and distribution of child pornography and tampering with a potential witness. After a four-day trial, the jury convicted Eads on all counts (these being Counts 1, 2, and 5), and he was then sentenced to 480 months imprisonment. Following a hearing on his motion for new trial and the denial of said motion on May 4, 2012, his conviction was affirmed on appeal in United States v. Eads, 729 F.3d 769, 771-72 (7th Cir. 2013). The evidentiary summary from Eads's appeal is the following:

Sometime in May 2011, Detective Darin Odier of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's Cyber Crimes Unit found an Internet Protocol (IP) address offering 400 files of nude children through a file sharing program called “Shareaza.” Detective Odier obtained a subpoena for the Comcast subscriber associated with the IP address, and it came back with the name “Christopher Eads.” By the time Detective Odier had prepared a search warrant, the IP address that belonged to Eads was no longer active. But by October 26, 2011, it was up and running again. At this time, Detective Odier downloaded five files associated with Eads's IP address and found images with code names associated with child pornography such as, “Pedo Babyshivid Childlover Private Daughter Torpedo Ranchi Lolita” and “Pedo Dad F*cks Toddler Boy.”
On November 15, 2011, detectives conducted a search of Eads's home and found two laptop computers, compact discs, thumb drives, and a Bersa .40-caliber handgun. When detectives searched the living room laptop, they discovered 6, 937 images of child pornography (including one image with text written over it offering to rent a child for sex) and over thirty minutes in total of child pornography videos.
Both Eads and his wife, Rachel Smith Eads, were home during the search and Rachel agreed to speak with law enforcement. Eads yelled through the house, “Don't tell them anything.” Rachel told detectives that after dating Eads for a couple of months, she found an FBI badge in his pants pocket. When she confronted him about it, he told her that he was an undercover FBI agent and that he had to download child pornography as part of his duties. Rachel further told detectives that the handgun they had found in the home belonged to Eads (which was a problem for Eads because he is a convicted felon).
Eads was later arrested and taken into federal custody. While in custody from November 29-30, 2011, Eads called Rachel from jail numerous times. Clearly frustrated and upset by Rachel's statements to police, Eads repeatedly demanded that she “make this right” and recant her statements. Eads proposed that Rachel write to the judge assigned to his case and state that Eads's former friend and houseguest, Nathan Asbury, was trying to set him up. Rachel promised to help her husband.

Eads, 729 F.3d at 772-73 (footnote omitted).

         On July 14, 2014, Eads filed his Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence alleging ten grounds as bases for his motion. (Dkt. 1.) On March 16, 2015 Eads filed an amendment to Claim six of his § 2255 motion. (Dkt. 16.) Thereafter, the Court accepted Eads amendment and clarified that the original § 2255 motion was amended by interlineation, such that claim 6 as restated in the motion to amend is now claim 6. (Dkt. 17.) The United States was given an opportunity to respond and that response is at docket 21.


         Eads seeks relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. A petitioner may avail himself of § 2255 relief only if he can show that there are “flaws in the conviction or sentence which are jurisdictional in nature, constitutional in magnitude or result in a complete miscarriage of justice.” Boyer v. United States, 55 F.2d 296, 298 (7th Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 116 S.Ct. 268 (1995). Section 2255 is limited to correcting errors that “vitiate the sentencing court's jurisdiction or are otherwise of constitutional magnitude.” Guinan v. United States, 6 F.3d 468, 470 (7th Cir. 1993) (citing Scott v. United States, 997 F.2d 340 (7th Cir. 1993)).


         Eads first claims that he was denied the right of confrontation by the introduction of recorded jail telephone conversations between himself and his wife, Rachael, after he had been placed in federal custody. Eads' objection to the introduction of these recordings was overruled because Rachael's statements in the recordings were non-testimonial for purpose of applying the rule of Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 51 (2004). See United States v. Neveaux, 2016 WL 6024529, at *2 (E.D. La. Oct. 14, 2016); Malone v. Kramer, 2010 WL 1404286, at *16-17 (E.D. Cal. Apr. 6, 2010), subsequently aff'd sub nom. Malone v. Felker, 453 F. App'x 754 (9th Cir. 2011). In his 98 page brief (Dkt. 3), Eads correctly asserts that he could have called Rachael as a witness to clarify her statements. There was no constitutional violation in facing the choice between ...

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