Defendant’s Rap Video Describing Pimping Admissible in Prosecution for Sex Trafficking a Minor
From last week’s Fifth Circuit opinion in U.S. v. Sims, written by Judge W. Eugene Davis and joined by Judges Catharina Haynes and Andrew Oldham:
A jury found Defendant, Jaimian Sims, guilty of sex trafficking a minor and conspiracy to sex traffic a minor. The district court imposed a life sentence. Sims appeals his conviction arguing [among other things] … that certain rap videos were improperly admitted into evidence and shown to the jury….
Sims was a Houston-based rap artist (known as “Sauce Lean”) and pimp who associated with a group who called themselves “The Sauce Factory” (TSF). TSF members were allowed to use a large house called “the Mansion” which was owned by one of the top TSF members known as “Sauce Walka.” At some point between 2016 and 2017, Sims linked up with co-defendant Gary Shawn Haynes, Jr., who was a college football player. Haynes knew Sims was a pimp and wanted an opportunity to join that lifestyle.
To get Haynes started, Sims instructed his girlfriend and co-defendant, Tabbetha Mangis, to find Haynes a “white girl” to work as a prostitute for Haynes. Mangis reached out to the 17-year-old minor victim, who throughout proceedings has been referred to as Jane Doe. Mangis knew Jane Doe as a friend of Mangis’s younger sister, and she knew that Jane Doe was 17 years old. Several text messages were exchanged between Jane Doe, Mangis, and Haynes, which resulted in Jane Doe agreeing to work as a prostitute for Haynes. Haynes also knew that Jane Doe was underage. Haynes picked up Jane Doe and brought her back to the Mansion where Jane Doe was taught the rules of prostituting.
Shortly after her arrival at the Mansion, Haynes brought Jane Doe to the Express Inn motel where he provided Jane Doe fraudulent identification to obtain a room. Meanwhile, Sims had previously checked in to the Express Inn to oversee his own prostitutes. After Jane Doe’s initial check-in, she was relocated to a room in the Express Inn occupied by one of Sims’s prostitutes, referred to as Janet Doe. Janet Doe was instructed by Sims to teach Jane Doe how to make money— “help her,” make her “comfortable,” and “help her post ads.”
Jane Doe then engaged in commercial sex for three days in which all money she earned from these activities was paid to Haynes. After the three days, on November 23, 2017, Jane Doe called the police and asked them to arrest her so that she could escape. The police arrived and recovered Jane Doe, and Sims and several prostitutes at the hotel were arrested….
Sims argues that rap videos admitted at trial were unfairly prejudicial and should have been excluded under Federal Rule of Evidence 403. He contends that the lyrics to the music in the videos, which referred to women as “bitches” and “whores” and glorified the pi
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