United States Fourth Circuit

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US v. Runyon, 09-11

Defendant's conviction and capital sentence for conspiracy to commit murder-for hire, and related charges, is affirmed, where: 1) the federal murder-for-hire statute, which underlies Count One, and the federal carjacking statute, 18 U.S.C. section 2119, which underlies Count Two, are not unconstitutional; 2) there was sufficient evidence to establish the jurisdictional element of murder-for-hire; 3) the district court properly overruled defendant's objections to the nonstatutory aggravating factors charged by the prosecution and found by the jury, with the exception of the admission of the interrogation video to show lack of remorse, although this error was deemed harmless; 4) any Fifth or Sixth Amendment error in the prosecution’s closing argument did not contribute to the verdict obtained, and therefore does not warrant reversal; 5) prosecutor's remarking in closing argument did not violate due process; 6) the jury to does not need to find that the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors beyond a reasonable doubt, and the jury therefore need not be so instructed; 7) even if there were any errors regarding the substitution of jurors, there is no showing that they affected defendant's substantial rights; and 8) defendant's cumulative error claim fails.

Appellate Information

  • Decided 02/25/2013
  • Published 02/25/2013

Judges

  • WILKINSON

Court

  • United States Fourth Circuit

Counsel

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