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United States v. Haig

United States District Court, D. Nevada

July 8, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff(s),
v.
DOUGLAS HAIG, Defendant(s).

          ORDER

         Presently before the court is plaintiff United States of America's (“the government”) motion in limine to exclude arguments and evidence regarding the Second Amendment. (ECF No. 42). Defendant Douglas Haig filed a non-opposition response. (ECF No. 59).

         Also before the court is the government's motion in limine to exclude arguments and evidence regarding prosecutorial charging decisions and allegations of selective prosecution. (ECF No. 53). Haig filed a non-opposition response. (ECF No. 60).

         Also before the court is Haig's motion in limine to exclude evidence regarding armor piercing and tracer ammunition. (ECF No. 64). The government filed a response (ECF No. 75), to which Haig replied (ECF No. 77).

         Also before the court is Haig's motion in limine to exclude Erich Smith's expert testimony regarding toolmark evidence. (ECF No. 80). The government filed a response (ECF No. 82), to which Haig replied (ECF No. 84).

         I.Facts

         This action arises from the investigation into the October 1, 2017, mass shooting, where Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of over 22, 000 concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on 3901 South Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, Nevada. (ECF No. 1).

         On the evening of October 1, 2017, Paddock positioned himself in rooms 134 and 135 on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, which were in an elevated position overlooking the concert venue. Id. Paddock brought with him a remarkable arsenal including over twenty firearms, hundreds of rounds of ammunition (mostly in preloaded high-capacity magazines), and range finding devices. Id. At approximately 10:05 p.m., Paddock used these weapons to attack the concertgoers from his hotel rooms, killing fifty-eight and injuring 869 people.[1]

         After obtaining and executing search warrants on Paddock's hotel rooms, law enforcement officials found Paddock's body, the weapons, and hundreds of rounds of spent ammunition. Id. The officers and agents also found an Amazon.com cardboard shipping box in the hotel rooms, marked with the name Douglas Haig and the address 4323 East Encanto Street, Mesa, Arizona. Id.

         On October 2, 2017, and October 5, 2017, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) agents and Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) agents arranged interviews with Douglas Haig and his business partner (hereinafter “Associate”). Id. Haig and Associate admitted that they had interacted with Paddock on multiple occasions. Id. Their first interaction with Paddock was on or about August 27, 2017, at a gun show in Las Vegas Nevada. Id. Paddock browsed the ammunition samples at their booth and purchased forty to fifty rounds of .308 caliber incendiary ammunition. Id.

         Haig and Associate's second interaction with Paddock was in early September 2017 at a gun show in Phoenix, Arizona. Id. Haig stated that Paddock attempted to purchase bulk ammunition and that they exchanged telephone numbers to coordinate a future transaction. Id.

         Haig further stated that on September 19, 2017, he spoke with Paddock on the telephone and arranged to complete an ammunition purchase that day. Id. Paddock arrived at Haig's residence and purchased 600 rounds of .308 caliber (7.62mm) tracer ammunition as well as 120 rounds of M196 .223 caliber tracer ammunition. Id. According to Haig, he put the rounds in the Amazon.com shipping box, which law enforcement officials found in Paddock's hotel rooms. Id. Haig noted that Paddock purchased the munitions with cash and took the time to put on gloves prior to placing the box into the trunk of his vehicle. Id.

         The ATF and FBI agents asked Haig whether he manufactured the ammunition that he sold to Paddock. (ECF No. 42). Haig repeatedly claimed that Lake City Army Ammunition Plant manufactured the ammunition that he sold. Id. Haig also stated that he manufactures ammunition only for his personal use. Id During these interviews, the agents observed reloading equipment in Haig's shop, which was in the backyard of his residence located at 4323 East Encanto Street, Mesa, Arizona. (ECF No. 1). Haig voluntarily provided the agents with a sample of ammunitions that he sells to customers and claimed that the ammunition from the Las Vegas crime scene would not have his toolmarks. Id.

         FBI investigators subsequently forwarded evidence from the Las Vegas crime scene to a laboratory for forensic analysis. Id. The examination revealed that: (1) two rounds of unfired .308 caliber cartridges from Paddock's hotel rooms had Haig's fingerprints; (2) the cartridges had reloading equipment toolmarks; and (3) the cartridges contained armor piercing/incendiary bullets. Id.

         On October 19, 2017, the FBI obtained and executed a search warrant at Haig's residence. Id. Law enforcement officials seized over 100 items, including live ammunition, reloading equipment, and ammunition sales records. Id. Laboratory analysis confirmed that the ammunition from Haig's residence was reloaded armor piercing ammunition and contained toolmarks consistent with the marks on the reloaded armor piercing rounds from Paddock's hotel rooms. Id. Haig does not have a license to manufacture armor piercing ammunition. Id.

         Analysis of the sales records revealed that Haig had engaged in over 100 sales of armor piercing ammunition throughout the country. Id. Three of these sales were with customers residing in the state of Nevada. Id. Law enforcement officials interviewed these customers and discovered that two of the sales occurred in person at the Cashman Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Id. The third sale was an online transaction and the ammunition was shipped to a residence in Elko, Nevada. Id.

         On August 22, 2018, a grand jury in the District of Nevada returned an indictment charging Haig with one count of engaging in the business of manufacturing ammunition without a license in violation of 18 ...


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