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United States v. Plume

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

February 2, 2017

United States of America Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
Timothy Kenneth White Plume Defendant-Appellant

          Submitted: October 21, 2016

         Appeal from United States District Court for the District of South Dakota - Rapid City

          Before RILEY, Chief Judge, WOLLMAN and BENTON, Circuit Judges.

          BENTON, Circuit Judge.

         A jury convicted Timothy Kenneth White Plume of assault resulting in serious bodily injury in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1153 and 113(a)(6), and child abuse in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1153 and South Dakota Codified Laws §§ 26-10-01 and 26-8A-2(3) and (6). White Plume asserts: (1) insufficiency of the evidence, (2) abuse of discretion in excluding evidence of past child abuse by his wife, and (3) precluding confrontation about his wife's past child abuse. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, this court affirms.

         I.

         On the afternoon of December 8, 2012, White Plume was at home with his wife Natalie and her infant grandson, L.L. Natalie was baking in the kitchen. White Plume was watching television with L.L. in the bedroom. Later that afternoon, White Plume became angry and visibly upset after Natalie accused him of infidelity. Shortly after 4:30 p.m., White Plume came out of the bedroom holding L.L., concerned something was wrong.

         L.L. suffered significant, acute head trauma and a leg fracture. The complex skull fractures were caused by force like a fall from a roof to a concrete surface. L.L.-now blind, deaf, and severely cognitively impaired-has little chance of ever walking or talking.

         White Plume initially denied responsibility. He suggested that a skin bump on L.L.'s head may have been responsible. Later, he said Natalie had dragged L.L. across the bed by his leg. White Plume eventually said he picked up and threw down the bed in anger, causing L.L. to fall off. White Plume, in a note for officers, apologized for what happened to L.L. At trial, he testified he never saw L.L. fall off the bed, instead claiming to black out shortly after arguing with Natalie. The next thing he remembered was standing in the bedroom with the box spring on top of his foot, with L.L. on the ground making a "gurgling" sound.

         During a pre-trial conference editing the transcript of an audio recording of White Plume's polygraph, he objected to the removal of this exchange with officers:

Q: Did the children or have your children been taken away from you? None of Natalie's children have been taken away before.
A: Yeah, her son did.
Q: Okay. For what ...

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