Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California Milton L. Schwartz, District Judge, Presiding Argued and Submitted December 8, 1997--San Francisco, California
Before: Myron H. Bright,* Betty B. Fletcher, and Thomas G. Nelson, Circuit Judges.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Per Curiam
Angela Dawn Shannon appeals her conviction and 46-month sentence the district court imposed after a jury found her guilty of one felony count of interfering with commerce by threatened physical violence, 18 U.S.C. S 1951, and one felony count of mailing a threatening communication, 18 U.S.C. S 876, 18 U.S.C. S 2. These counts and felony convictions relate to a death threat Shannon mailed to a doctor who performs abortions. On appeal, Shannon argues the district court erred in giving a "deliberate ignorance " instruction under United States v. Jewell, 532 F.2d 697 (9th Cir. 1976) (en banc), in admitting a letter that Shannon received from a friend, and also erred in imposing a two-level enhancement at sentencing for Shannon's perjury during her trial testimony. We affirm Shannon's conviction and sentence.
Appellant Angela Shannon, age 23, and her mother, Rachelle Shannon, have a history of activism in the anti-abortion movement. In August 1993, about five months after the mailing of the threat letter that is the subject of this appeal, Rachelle Shannon shot an abortion doctor in Wichita, Kansas. A Kansas state court convicted Rachelle Shannon in March 1994 of attempted murder in connection with that shooting.
In February 1993, the Shannons together with other activists from California and elsewhere traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to participate in demonstrations at abortion clinics. The Shannons protested at several clinics and Angela participated in a blockade of two clinics. The Shannons also infiltrated other clinics, taking pictures and recording information about the facilities.
While in Milwaukee, the Shannons met and befriended David Eck, a young anti-abortion protester who was active in the Milwaukee area. Angela and Eck, who was romantically interested in Angela, spent considerable time together in Milwaukee. After Angela returned to Oregon, Eck wrote her, telephoned her, and visited her.
Angela Shannon arranged to meet with her friend, Eric Armstrong, at the Sacramento airport at the time the Shannons flew back from Milwaukee. Armstrong lived in Stockton, California and had met Angela at an abortion protest in 1988. During the course of their visit in Sacramento, Angela handed Armstrong a sealed, stamped envelope, asked him to mail the envelope when he returned home, and told him she did not want the letter traced to her. Armstrong accepted the envelope and mailed it from Stockton a few days later.
Dr. George Woodward performed abortions as a physician/employee at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On about March 3, 1993, Dr. Woodward's wife, Susan, retrieved the mail from the mailbox at the Woodwards' home. She found a letter postmarked Stockton, California. The letter addressed to Dr. Woodward was threatening in nature, warning the doctor if he had not "stopped killing" by March 16, 1993, the writer would "stalk" him down and harm him and his family. The letter included specific information that enhanced the credibility of the threat, such as a description of the doctor's car, a description of the building in which he worked, his home address, the fact that he sang in his church choir, and the fact that he had a "habit of stopping at McDonalds on Wisconsin Ave." before going to work.
The letter concluded with the following threat:"If I hear you are still killing when I get to town I will haunt you and your wife day and night and give you no peace. If you continue, I will hunt you down like any other wild beast and kill you. You have until the 16th." The threat letter ...