Moody’s 'meth show' wins life sentences
The message in this case is to always check for mobile phone and YouTube video recordings of stupid suspects self-incriminating
This article was featured in Lexipol’s Xiphos newsletter, a monthly legal-focused law enforcement newsletter authored by Ken Wallentine. Subscriptions are free for public safety officers, educators and public attorneys. Subscribe here!
Moody v. United States, 2020 WL 2190766 (6th Cir. 2020)
Christopher Moody was a meth cook and an aspiring video reality star – at least for an audience of 12 jurors. Moody recorded himself in his kitchen cooking meth while commenting on his life as a dope fiend and nascent career criminal. As Moody stirs the pot, he chants to the camera:
“[Y]ou see me in the kitchen right now, bitch, in this Pyrex cooking up this purloin yellow. Watch me get this shit hard. Watch me get this shit hard, bitch. I got it soft – my homeboy brought it to me soft. Now I’m gonna make it hard.”
At the time of recording his methamphetamine cooking show, Moody had a court appearance pending before Judge Stephen Dozier and an upcoming birthday. Moody gave the judge and prosecutor special shout-outs in the sponsor portion of his show:
“You gonna see me on my birthday, you bitches, with a big [unintelligible] of moho, popping them pills and drinking, getting high and trapping. F___ the law. I’m [unintelligible] on my birthday, man. Man, on my birthday, I got the heat on me all day. I don’t even kill on my birthday. This, this is what I been waiting for: to be out on my motherf__ing birthday. I go to court on the 16th. Bitch, I got my lawyer paid up, ho, so you know I ain’t getting locked up. Bitch, I’m gonna keep on running game on this PO I got. F___ him too. He a’ight, but f___ him too. The judge—f___ you too. DA—f___ you too. Man, Dozier—Judge Do—F___ you too. I’m gonna [unintelligible] in your courtroom, bitch. Man, if I could shoot you right now, bitch, I would.”
The court declined to allow the jury to view more offensive and prejudicial portions of the show, including excerpts in which Moody threatens to massacre his enemies in a similar fashion to the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings.
Moody didn’t win a daytime Emmy or Oscar, but after the jury convicted him (that wasn’t much of a surprise ending), the court awarded him a vacation in federal prison with multiple mandatory-minimum life sentences.
Moody claimed the home meth-cooking show extravaganza should never have been viewed by the jurors. It was too prejudicial (isn’t that the nature of reality television?). Further, Moody argued, the show was a rerun and the original filming date was outside the statute of limitations. Moody claimed enough time had passed from when he produced the show and when he was charged that the recording should have been inadmissible. The trial court allowed the jury to view the show, but did permit evidence that the show might have been recorded outside of the statute of limitations.
After Moody appealed to a federal court of appeals and lost, he asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review his convictions, but the Court declined. Moody then sought relief with a writ of habeas corpus; the trial court denied the writ and Moody appealed again. After all, when serving multiple life sentences and not having access to a television recording studio, what is there to do except handwrite appeals on prison stationery?
The court of appeals held Moody had not shown sufficient grounds for the trial court to have granted the writ, or, in simple terms, that “reasonable jurists would not question the district court’s denial of relief on these claims.”
If there is a message in this case for investigators, it is to always check for mobile phone and YouTube video recordings of stupid suspects self-incriminating.