FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW
MEXICO (D.C. NO. 1:16-CR-01106-JMC-1)
Rivas, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Office the Federal
Public Defender, Albuquerque, New Mexico, for Appellant.
C. Anderson, United States Attorney, Office of the United
States Attorney, Albuquerque, New Mexico, for Appellee.
TYMKOVICH, Chief Judge, EBEL, and LUCERO, Circuit Judges.
TYMKOVICH, CHIEF JUDGE.
appeal requires us to consider the boundaries of the Sandia
Pueblo north of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Resolving that
question answers whether the federal court had jurisdiction
to hear the underlying criminal case on appeal. We conclude
the crime occurred within the exterior boundaries of the
Sandia Pueblo, and therefore the federal court for the
District of New Mexico was the proper forum for the
Antonio was driving his pickup truck a few miles north of
Albuquerque when he was involved in a car accident. He was
driving north but drifted into the southbound lane where he
collided head-on with another vehicle. Antonio had been
drinking, and at the time of the accident, he was
significantly over the legal limit for driving. He had been
convicted of driving under the influence on two occasions
prior to his arrest in this case. This time, a passenger in
the other vehicle was killed.
federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Antonio
with one count of second-degree murder. As an enrolled member
of the Laguna Pueblo, Antonio could be charged and tried in
federal court if the accident occurred in Indian Country. The
United States alleged that the accident occurred within the
exterior boundaries of the Sandia Pueblo.
to trial, the United States filed a motion in limine
asking the district court to rule that the site of the
accident was in Indian Country to conclusively establish
federal jurisdiction. Antonio then informed the district
court of his ongoing investigation into the question of the
parties presented arguments to the district court during
pre-trial hearings. The government presented testimony from a
land surveyer who determined the land was within Indian
Country. After hearing the evidence, the district court judge
stated he was "inclined to find" the site of the
accident took place in Indian Country. R. Vol. 5 at 63.
week before trial, Antonio filed a motion to dismiss the
indictment for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant
to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12(b)(2). He argued
that, as a matter of law, the accident site was on privately
owned land and not in Indian Country. Therefore, there was no
issue was revisited at a motions hearing prior to trial. The
government objected to exhibits listed by Antonio, which he
was planning to introduce to show that the accident site was
not within Indian Country. The district court stated
Right at the moment, I'm inclined to put it in the
instruction that it is within Indian Country. And with that,
since I'm making a determination pretrial, I'm
putting it in the jury instructions and instructing, then[, ]
those exhibits will not be allowed for the purpose of
contesting that this is Indian Country.
R. Vol. 5 at 318. The district court indicated it planned to
deny Antonio's motion.
trial, Antonio objected to Proposed Instruction No. 12, which
instructed the jury that, as a matter of law, the site of the
accident took place in Indian Country. The court stated it
was going to incorporate this instruction, or a similar
instruction, into the final jury instructions. Antonio
responded, "I understand the Court is going to rule that
it is within Indian Country. . . . And to that extent, we
object to the instruction that includes the consequence of
that decision." R. Vol. 5 at 738.
close of the government's case, Antonio moved for a
judgment of acquittal under Rule 29 and argued there was
insufficient proof that the accident took place in Indian
Country. The district court judge denied the motion, noting
that he was "going to tell the jury that the land is
Indian Country so that . . . they will make their decision
based upon [the district court's] instruction that the
Court has jurisdiction." R. Vol. 5 at 886.
close of Antonio's case, Antonio renewed his motion for
judgment of acquittal, which the district court denied. The
district court instructed the jury "that the alleged
murder occurred within the territorial jurisdiction of the
United States, if you find beyond a reasonable doubt that
such offense occurred at the intersection of Highway 313 and
Wilda Drive, in Bernalillo County, in the District of New
Mexico." R. Vol. 1 437-38.
weeks after trial, the district court issued its opinion
denying Antonio's motion to dismiss. The district court
concluded it had jurisdiction based on the Indian Pueblo
Lands Act Amendments of 2005. Antonio was subsequently
sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 240 months and now
raises four issues for reversal. First, whether the
government met its burden to prove the accident occurred in
Indian Country. Second, whether the jury was presented with
sufficient evidence that the offense was committed within the
territorial jurisdiction of the United States. Third, whether
the district court violated Federal Rule of Criminal
Procedure 12(d) by waiting until after trial to issue a
written memorandum and order denying the motion to dismiss.
And fourth, whether the district court erred in instructing
address each in turn, concluding the district court committed
Subject Matter Jurisdiction and Indian Country
United States has jurisdiction over crimes committed within
Indian Country as defined by 18 U.S.C. ...