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Testimony properly authenticates video

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A video showing two brothers outside a home where a drug deal occurred was properly authenticated for trial, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

Brothers Constantino and Nicholas Cejas appealed their convictions for conspiring to supply Brian Denny and other individuals in Indiana with over 500 grams of methamphetamine. They argued, in part, the video recorded by a pole camera near Denny’s Terre Haute home was inadmissible at trial because it was not properly authenticated.

Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation filmed Constantino at Denny’s home on Feb. 8, 2011. They also recorded Constantino returning with his brother Nicholas on Feb. 14, 2011.

The second video shows the brothers arriving in a pickup truck then Nicholas walking to the back of the truck and getting into a toolbox that was attached to the bed of the vehicle. The recording also shows the brothers leaving the home and going to the toolbox before driving away.

Agents pulled the pair over and seized two guns and $8,000 in cash that was in the toolbox.

Denny testified that during the Feb. 14 visit, one of the brothers placed 4 ounces of methamphetamine in his microwave in exchange for $8,000.

On appeal, the brothers assert the video showing them outside Denny’s residence on Valentine’s Day should not have been admitted at trial because the government had not established a proper foundation to authenticate it.

The court rejected the argument in United States of America v. Constantino Cejas and Nicholas Ceja, 12-3896 & 13-1034. It pointed to trial testimony from Denny and FBI Special Agent Ed Wheele who both had the knowledge to support the finding that the video was what the government claimed.

Wheele confirmed that the pole camera was monitored throughout the investigation and was consistently producing accurate results. Also, the video was stamped with the precise date and time.

“The brothers give us no sound reason to doubt the video’s authenticity,” Judge Ann Claire Williams wrote for the court. “They do not argue, for example, that the scene depicted in the video did not occur outside of Denny’s home, or that they were not the individuals seen in the video. They fail to give us any reason to believe the video was spliced, or improperly altered in any way, or that the pole camera did not accurately record the events are they unfolded.”

Editor’s Note: The court indicates in a footnote that the brothers’ last names were spelled differently in the lower court and in their briefing before this court, the result of an administrative error. The correct spelling is Cejas. The 7th Circuit used both spellings throughout their opinion.

 

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  1. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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