Submitted: April 7, 2017
from United States District Court for the Southern District
of Iowa - Des Moines
SMITH, Chief Judge, SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge, and FENNER,
SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.
D. Hellems was convicted of being a felon in possession of a
firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), and
sentenced to 120 months imprisonment. He now challenges three
of the district court's evidentiary rulings at trial.
Hellems also claims that the court violated his
constitutional and procedural right to be present at trial.
We affirm the district court on all grounds and deny
facts of this case begin with a physical altercation between
three men. On the day of the altercation, Hellems called his
adult son, DeAndre Brown, and asked to meet him at a park.
DeAndre asked Rondale Brown, his brother, to accompany him.
DeAndre and Rondale arrived first, followed by Hellems.
Hellems then punched both men without provocation and a fight
soon broke out.
later testified that Hellems had three guns on his person
during the fight, but no shots were fired. An eye witness,
Shirley Bolden, called for police as the fight continued. She
later testified to seeing Hellems with three guns.
Matt Harkin responded to the call for police. Upon his
arrival, Officer Harkin saw the three men near a Ford
Explorer. On the ground near the Explorer was a Taurus .40
caliber pistol and a nine-millimeter magazine. Officer Harkin
ordered the men to the ground, and DeAndre and Rondale both
complied. Hellems jumped into the Explorer and fled the park.
Adam Lemek and Sidik Becirovic, driving in separate squad
cars, chased Hellems through a residential area. During the
chase, Officer Becirovic observed Hellems tossing a black
object out of his window. As he drove by that object seconds
later, he saw it was a black handgun. The chase continued for
several minutes until Hellems stopped, jumped out of the
Explorer, and ran into his house. A short while later, police
arrested Hellems. Officer Becirovic returned to where he had
seen the black handgun and recovered a .38 caliber Smith
& Wesson revolver.
next day, Officer Lemek received a report of a firearm
located along the route of the previous day's chase.
Along the street, near the sidewalk, he located a Hi-Point
nine-millimeter pistol without its magazine.
Hellems was charged with felony possession of two firearms
(the Taurus .40 caliber pistol and the .38 caliber Smith
& Wesson revolver) in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
922(g)(1). Hellems invoked his constitutional right to
represent himself. The court appointed standby counsel under
the Criminal Justice Act.
a pretrial conference, the court asked Hellems if he would
like to stipulate to element one of the charge-that he had a
prior felony conviction-so that the jury would not hear the
nature of his prior convictions. Hellems declined, stating
that he "would like to invoke all [his] rights on the
record [and] remain silent at this point in time."
morning of the first day of trial, prospective jurors were
brought into the courtroom and seated in the gallery. The
district court began to explain the jury selection process
when Hellems objected. Hellems proceeded to repeatedly
interrupt the court, even after multiple instructions to
remain quiet. The court advised Hellems that he would have an
opportunity to speak later, and that courtroom procedures
required him to remain silent for the time being. Hellems
ignored the court and continued to loudly interrupt. The
court warned Hellems that if he continued to speak he would
be excluded from the courtroom. Hellems replied,
"That's fine, " and continued to speak. The
court removed the prospective jurors from the courtroom and
offered Hellems one final opportunity to comply with its
instructions. Hellems refused and continued his verbal
outbursts. Finally, the court ...