Federal law prohibits you from carrying murderous grudges across state lines

United States v. Taplet, No. 11-3074 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 20, 2015). 

Melvin Taplet moved in with his girlfriend, Kimberly McLaughlin. After noticing changes in McLaughlin’s demeanor, a friend and neighbor, Danielle Buck, encouraged her to end the relationship with Taplet. She did. 

Angry at Buck’s interference, Taplet struck up a conversation with a stranger at a truck stop, and said he wished he could “have something seriously done to” Buck. The stranger said he could “take care” of Buck for $7,000 to $10,000. In later conversations, Taplet reaffirmed that he wanted Buck killed and told the stranger to dump the body in a secluded town near the Canadian border. The stranger turned out to be an undercover federal agent, and Taplet was arrested and charged with murder for hire. A federal jury convicted him of the crime, and the judge sentenced him to ten years in prison.

On appeal, Taplet raises a number of different arguments, all of which are rejected. In one of his more interesting arguments, Taplet says that the government “manufactured” federal jurisdiction by convincing Taplet to cross state lines to discuss the planned murder. It is true that a conviction will be overturned when the interstate element in a crime is furnished solely by undercover agents. Here, though, Taplet himself crossed state lines—and crossed them voluntarily. His conviction and sentence are affirmed.