Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Montana Sam E. Haddon, District Judge, Presiding D.C. No. 4:11-cr-00042- SEH-1
Argued and Submitted August 7, 2012-Seattle, Washington
Before: Susan H. Black,*fn1 Susan P. Graber, and Johnnie B. Rawlinson, Circuit Judges.
Ronald Charles Peppers appeals his conviction for assaulting a federal officer, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111(a)(1). We affirm.
On October 17, 2010, Special Agent Brian Kimball of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and several other law enforcement officers attempted to apprehend Peppers at the residence of his mother, Roberta Arnoux. Earlier that day, Arnoux had informed the officers that Peppers was asleep in her trailer home but warned that she kept an unloaded shotgun under her bed.
Around midnight, the officers entered Arnoux's darkened trailer and found Peppers sleeping on a couch. As the officers attempted to apprehend Peppers, a struggle ensued, during which Peppers bit Special Agent Kimball's arm. The officers placed Peppers under arrest shortly thereafter.
Following an indictment, Peppers proceeded to trial on one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, which was dismissed at the close of the government's case-in-chief, and one count of assault on a federal officer. At trial, Peppers testified in his own defense, claiming that at the time of his arrest, he believed he was resisting violent attackers, not law enforcement officers, who had entered his mother's trailer. Peppers maintained that he had not become aware that the intruders were actually law enforcement officers because, among other things, he could not see anything in the darkened trailer and could not hear officers identifying themselves due to the general commotion associated with his arrest.
After the close of evidence, the district court distributed its proposed jury instructions, which stated in relevant part:
In order for the defendant to be found guilty of assault on a federal officer as charged in the indictment, the government must prove each of the ...