United States v. Jonathan Petras

Case: 16-11631 Document: 00514297449 Page: 1 Date Filed: 01/08/2018 IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT United States Court of Appeals No. 16-11631 Fifth Circuit FILED January 8, 2018 Lyle W. Cayce Clerk UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff–Appellee, versus JONATHAN KHALID PETRAS; WISAM IMAD SHAKER, Defendants–Appellants. Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas Before JONES, SMITH, and PRADO, Circuit Judges. JERRY E. SMITH, Circuit Judge: Jonathan Petras and Wisam Shaker were convicted of interfering with the performance of the duties of a flight crew by intimidation, in violation of 49 U.S.C. § 46504. The defendants appeal on various grounds. Finding no error, we affirm. I. Petras and Shaker boarded a flight from San Diego to Chicago. They are Case: 16-11631 Document: 00514297449 Page: 2 Date Filed: 01/08/2018 No. 16-11631 Chaldean Christians who were traveling to Chicago with ten other individuals to play in a soccer tournament for Chaldean and Assyrian refugees. 1 The flight had 117 passengers. After an unscheduled layover in Amarillo, the plane made it to Chicago minus Petras, Shaker, and their companions. The behavior precipitating this case began before the aircraft departed the gate. Flight attendant Victoria Clark testified that Shaker “angr[il]y told her to “move out of the way” as he was coming down the aisle. Petras and Shaker then sat in row 20, with their fellow Chaldean soccer players in rows 20 and 21. As the flight attendants were preparing for takeoff and giving safety demonstrations, some members of defendants’ group had their tray tables down, seats reclined, and seatbelts unfastened. Clark had to stop her demonstration more than once to request that they put up their seats and tray tables. Shaker was playing loud music and repeatedly refused Clark’s request to turn off the music or use earbuds. Petras also stood up to use the overhead bins after the announcement that everyone must be seated. After takeoff, the flight attendants began the in-flight drink service. Clark made her way down the aisle serving beverages, but she had a hard time hearing the passengers’ drink orders because, as she testified, the Chaldeans were “being loud and obnoxious.” Once again, she asked Shaker to turn off his music, but Shaker refused. Petras intervened, telling Clark, “You can’t tell us to be quiet.” Clark then began to take drink orders. One man asked about alcohol, and Shaker demanded some as well by saying, “Bring us some alcohol.” Clark refused, saying she would not serve them alcohol on the flight. She claimed at trial that she was afraid alcohol would escalate the situation because the group 1 Chaldeans are an ethnic-religious group of people indigenous to Iraq and Syria. 2 Case: 16-11631 Document: 00514297449 Page: 3 Date Filed: 01/08/2018 No. 16-11631 was already boisterous and somewhat noncompliant. Several members of the group immediately protested Clark’s refusal. Shaker said, “We can have whatever we want.” He started to rise from his seat toward Clark but got caught in his ...

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