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United States v. Norweathers

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

July 10, 2018

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Ronald Norweathers, also known as Tandy3100, also known as Tame 181, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued May 23, 2018

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 09 CR 1047 - Joan Humphrey Lefkow, Judge.

          Before Wood, Chief Judge, and Bauer and Rovner, Circuit Judges.

          BAUER, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         A jury convicted Ronald Norweathers of two counts of transporting child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography. Prior to trial, the government sought a ruling on the admissibility of an email exchange between Norweathers and another individual, in which they discussed drugging and having sex with young boys. The district court ruled the evidence was admissible under Federal Rules of Evidence 403 and 404(b), and the government introduced it at trial. On appeal, Norweathers contends the admission of the emails was an error that deprived him of a fair trial. We affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On July 15, 2009, a grand jury returned a four-count superseding indictment charging Norweathers with three counts of transporting child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(1) (Counts One, Two, and Three), and one count of possessing a computer hard drive containing images of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5)(b) (Count Four). The charges stemmed from an FBI investigation that culminated in the execution of a search warrant on December 19, 2009, at the address of 1-800-Radiator, a business located in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, where Norweathers worked as the operations manager.

         In their initial search, FBI agents found approximately 50 images of child pornography on a desktop computer at Norweathers' workstation. Those images served as the basis for Count Four of the indictment. The agents later obtained a warrant to search an email account with the username "tame181@yahoo.com," which they believed was Norweathers' personal account. That search revealed that on March 13, 2009, the tame181@yahoo.com username sent an email containing 78 images, the vast majority of which were images of child pornography. The agents also found an email sent on August 4, 2009, which contained four images of child pornography. The August 4, 2009, email and the March 13, 2009, email (collectively, "the charged emails") formed the basis for Counts Two and Three of the indictment, respectively. The government eventually dismissed Count One, and Norweathers proceeded to trial on Counts Two, Three, and Four.

         Before trial, the government filed a notice of intent to offer evidence of other bad acts pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b)(2). Specifically, the government sought to admit the following email exchange ("the uncharged emails"), which occurred between tame181@yahoo.com and another individual on November 12, 2008 [all misspellings uncorrected]:

To tame181@yahoo.com: I've always wanted to get a kid fukd up and use his holes, man
From tame181@yahoo.com: well give me a minimum age to work off of
To tame181@yahoo.com: 10
From tame181@yahoo.com: wow, that could be interesting to watch, but you would probably do damage if you're rough. I know where to get younger too
To tame181@yahoo.com: 4yr old?
From tame181@yahoo.com: would you seriously put you cock in something that ...

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