More details from last day of Keith Graves’ trial

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

After the string of tweets I mentioned yesterday, Andrew Sheeler filled us in on conviction day for Keith Graves: Jury convicts Graves on 8 counts.

The verdict

The difference between the 8 counts mentioned in the article and the 7 mentioned earlier is the forfeiture allegation.  The feds alleged that a toy bb gun, a miniature baseball bat, and an assortment of cell phones and computer tablets belonged to Mr. Graves. The allegation in the indictment could force a surrender of the items. Feds alleged he used all those items during the course of the crimes which the jury has now definitively determined he did in fact commit. Goal is to seize all the electronics he used in the commission of the crimes he was just convicted of.

He did not contest anything in the forfeiture allegation asserting that none of those things belonged to him. As a result the jury agreed with the allegation and all those items are forfeited to the federal government. Seems like he’s in a tight spot. If he admitted any of those things actually belonged to him then he obviously has responsibility for the inappropriate images or evidence contained therein.

Mr. Sheeler says Mr. Graves

“… showed little emotion…”

when the verdicts were read.

As mentioned earlier, the jury convicted him of possession and distribution of methamphetamine, which is 2 counts, plus 5 counts of human trafficking. That makes 7 felony convictions.

That means I can drop use of the word alleged when describing the felony counts for 7 of the 11 charges.

The article reminds us that Mr. Graves was one of the main subjects of the documentary The Overnighters. I’ve discussed that movie at great length on this blog.

More on the evidence

The lead trial attorney said at the end of the trial that some of the individual accusations were stronger than others. That would explain why the jury returned three acquittals on trafficking. The attorney indicated five versus eight convictions would not make a difference in the sentencing.

Article describes an online service company which was used by Mr. Graves to advertise the ‘services’ provided by the women he trafficked. (Sort of odd to not say allegedly trafficked, huh?) The representative of the company presented over 500 pages of invoices for ads which the victim witnesses say were paid by Mr. Graves.

I am guessing that each page is for advertising which was bought by Mr. Graves and that there were one or a few listings for each invoice. That would make well over 500 times he advertised for services.

I am totally unaware of any of the features of the company mentioned. I will assume that an ad will appear and then last for a day or perhaps two days before other ads visually replace it, which would make the ad useless. That would be why so many ads are needed. I will further guess the number of ads has some vague correlation to how long Mr. Graves was in business and how many women he had working for him. I have no clue how to translate 500 pages of ads into a timeframe. It wasn’t just a few days or a few weeks.

After reading the verdict

Mr. Graves asked to be returned to the Heart of America Correctional and Treatment Center located in Rugby, North Dakota which is an hour or so north of Bismarck. The US Marshals will make sure he has access to all needed legal material. According to the article, the judge urged Mr. Graves to make use of his court-appointed attorney to help in the sentencing phase. The judge said that is very complicated. From what little I have read on sentencing, basically from the Scott London case, the methodology to determine sentences is very complicated and relies on precedent to a large degree. It is my perception that a persuasive argument can carry the day and substantially reduce time served.

From the necessarily brief comments reported by Mr. Sheeler in his coverage, it seems to me the judge has been bending over backwards to be gracious to Mr. Graves in terms of fairness. I am perfectly fine with that. A little bit of patience beyond the average will make sure a man accused of heinous crimes is properly tried. That is a wonderful thing in America. Anyway, back to my point…

The judge will grant extensions on the deadline to file appeals if Mr. Graves encounters any difficulties in having access to materials and computer resources.

Sentencing is tentatively set for February 18, 2016.

PACER system

I checked the PACER system Friday evening. The two new items are the verdict sheet from the jury with the foreperson’s signature and a redacted verdict.

Not guilty verdicts were on counts 5 for obstruction and counts 3, 6, and 11 for trafficking. The only visible information on those counts is they involve adult women with their initials provided. There are only two correlations I can make at the moment to other information about those three counts.

The first is that one of the alleged victims here (count 6) was in custody for other reasons at the time of her appearance for testimony. Also, the trial was postponed back on March 6, 2015 because two of the witnesses were pregnant with delivery expected around the time the trial was then scheduled. One of the women pregnant at the time is mentioned in count 3.

I’ll keep watching the case.

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