RALEIGH – First Assistant United States Attorney G. Norman Acker, III announced that the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the conviction and sentence of SHAMEIKA GOODALL, a/k/a Donna Diva, 32, of Covington, Georgia, who was sentenced by Chief United States District Judge James C. Dever III in June 2017 to life imprisonment for kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping.
This case involved a conspiracy to kidnap relatives of attorneys that Kelvin Melton, a founding leader of the United Blood Nation, blamed for his conviction and life sentence on two charges pertaining to a 2011 gang-related shooting in Raleigh, North Carolina. In March and April 2014, from the maximum security unit at Polk Correctional Institution in Butner, North Carolina, Melton dispatched three kidnapping teams whose intended targets were family members of the state prosecutor who worked on his case and his state defense counsel. He intended to use the attorneys’ relatives as hostages to extort the dismissal of his life sentence.
On April 5, 2014, one of the kidnapping teams violently abducted Frank Janssen, the state prosecutor’s father, from his home in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and transported him to an apartment in Southeast Atlanta. There, Mr. Janssen remained bound to a chair and held in a small closet until the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team rescued him at 11:55 p.m. on April 9, 2014. Just hours before the rescue, Melton called and instructed the kidnapping team (including the member recruited by GOODALL) to find a location, dig a hole, kill Mr. Janssen, and then bury him.
GOODALL appealed her conviction and sentence to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, arguing that the district court erred when it admitted at trial evidence of other bad acts, when it applied certain enhancements at her sentencing, and when it sentenced her to life imprisonment. The Fourth Circuit rejected each of GOODALL’s arguments. With respect to GOODALL’s lifetime term of imprisonment, the Fourth Circuit noted that “numerous conspirators involved in this case each received a lengthy sentence for their individual role in the conspiracy, thus Goodall’s life sentence was not unusually disproportionate.” The Court further recognized that Goodall elected to go to trial and maintains her innocence, unlike some of her coconspirators who “assisted the FBI in rescuing the victim, decided to plead guilty, cooperated in the investigation, and testified against Melton and Goodall at their trials.”
First Assistant United States Attorney, G. Norman Acker, III, commented: “This crime was monstrously cruel to the victim and his family and a clear attack on our criminal justice system. Those who strike at the peace and security of our community will be held accountable. The affirmance of Goodall’s sentence and conviction reflects this reality. We will continue our efforts to ensure that convicted prisoners cannot reach out from their cells to threaten others and conduct criminal enterprises.”
This case was investigated by the FBI Charlotte, FBI Atlanta, the Wake Forest Police Department, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation with assistance by the Durham County Sheriff’s Office, Raleigh Police Department, Durham Police Department, North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement, Garner Police Department, North Carolina Highway Patrol, RDU Police, City County Bureau of Investigation, the Cobb County Police Department, Alpharetta Police Department, Atlanta Police Department, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina handled the prosecution and appeal of this case.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit hears appeals from the nine federal district courts located in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia, as well as from federal administrative agencies. More information about the Court can be found on its website, http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov. The Court’s opinion in this case can be found at: http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinions/174383.U.pdf, and the United States Attorney’s previous press releases regarding this case can be found at https://www.justice.gov/usao-ednc/pr/goodall-found-guilty-kidnapping-case-wake-forest-man and https://www.justice.gov/usao-ednc/pr/goodall-sentenced-life-prison-kidnapping-case-wake-forest-man.