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In 1991, 70-year-old Cary was shot and killed as she made a night deposit of the receipts from the liquor store where she worked. Davis, Taylor, Shackelfoot, and Lawless had planned the robbery. Davis attempted the robbery and shot Cary while the others waited in a car driven by Taylor. A jury convicted Taylor of first-degree felony murder and found that the killing occurred in the commission of an attempted robbery that he aided and abetted “as a major participant” and “with reckless indifference to human life,” a special circumstance requiring a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole (Penal Code 190.2(d)). The reckless indifference finding was based on the fact that after the shooting, Taylor simply drove off, later stating, “Fuck that old bitch.” In 2018, Taylor sought habeas corpus relief to have the special circumstance vacated under the California Supreme Court’s “Banks” and “Clark” decisions, which clarified what it means for an aiding and abetting defendant to be a major participant who acted with reckless indifference to human life. A defendant acts with reckless indifference to human life when he “knowingly creat[es] a ‘grave risk of death.’” The court of appeal granted his petition. Evidence of a defendant’s actions after a murder betraying an indifference to the loss of life does not, alone, establish that the defendant knowingly created a grave risk of death. There was no other evidence that Taylor had such intent. . View "In re Taylor" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's sentence of sixty months' imprisonment imposed after Defendant pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a machine gun and to being a felon in possession of three firearms and ammunition, holding that there was no plain error in the imposition of the sentence. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court committed procedural error when it chose not to, before imposing its sentence, definitively determine whether the guidelines sentencing range (GSR) proposed in the presentence report or the guidelines calculation agreed to in the plea agreement was correct. Instead, the district court based its sentence on the other sentencing factors listed in 18 U.S.C. 3553(a). The First Circuit affirmed, holding that, in light of the district court's statements that the sentence would have been the same under any of the proposed GSRs, there was no prejudice. Further, the district court's rationale was plausible and led to a defensible sentence, and therefore, the sentence was not substantively flawed. View "United States v. Ortiz-Alvarez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court sentencing Appellant to a prison term of 240 months after Appellant pleaded guilty to transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, holding that there was no plain error in the judgment below. On appeal, Appellant claimed that the prosecutor engaged in various incidents of an alleged breach of the plea agreement during the disposition hearing. The First Circuit disagreed, holding (1) the waiver-of-appeal provision in the plea agreement did not apply to the sentence actually imposed by the district court; (2) the government's statement that it made a "sweetheart deal" to avoid exposing the victim to the rigors of trial did not breach the agreement; (3) the prosecutor did not breach the agreement by recounting the offense characteristics and explaining why those characteristics justified the prosecutor's recommended sentence; and (4) the prosecutor did not breach the agreement by undermining the foundation on which the the prosecutor's proposed sentence rested. View "United States v. Colon-Rosario" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction of one count of possessing child pornography, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motions to suppress the evidence. Defendant uploaded child pornography images to a digital album on Imgur, an image hosting website. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received a report about the images from an anonymous tipster and informed law enforcement of the images. In his motions to suppress, Defendant argued that the evidence was obtained pursuant to a warrantless search by Imgur, acting at the instigation of NCMEC, and that the computer was searched pursuant to a warrant that lacked probable cause. The district court denied the motions. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in determining (1) Defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the images he uploaded to Imgur or in his internet protocol address, and (2) the state's warrant to search Defendant's computer was supported by probable cause. View "United States v. Morel" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, eight counts of health care fraud, six counts of aggravated identity theft, and four counts of furnishing false or fraudulent information in prescriptions for controlled substances, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Court held (1) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant's underlying convictions for aggravated identity theft; (2) the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion for a new trial; (3) the district court correctly denied Defendant's third motion for a judgment of acquittal as to the charges of furnishing false or fraudulent information for prescriptions in controlled substances; (4) Defendant's sentence was not substantively unreasonable; and (5) Defendant's pro se challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence for his conspiracy and health care fraud convictions and argument that an aspect of the trial violated his Sixth Amendment rights failed. View "United States v. Tull-Abreu" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's convictions for filing three false tax returns and obstructing a grand jury proceeding. The court held that the district court properly instructed the jury on the nexus requirement. However, the jury's determinations pursuant to that instruction were based on the substantial evidence presented at trial. Therefore, because the jury was properly instructed and found defendant guilty based on ample and substantial evidence, the court upheld his conviction. The court rejected defendant's remaining contentions related to the course of his trial. View "United States v. Sutherland" on Justia Law

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Defendant Lucio Lozano was charged with involvement in a multi-year cocaine trafficking conspiracy between individuals in Mexico and Colorado. In October 2017, defendant pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. He was subsequently sentenced to 180 months imprisonment and five years supervised release. He challenged the district court’s application of two sentencing enhancements: (1) a two-level guidelines increase for maintaining a premise for the purpose of distributing a controlled substance, and (2) a three-level aggravated role enhancement. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence. View "United States v. Lozano" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's conviction of possession of methamphetamine, holding that Defendant's right to a speedy trial under Wyo. R. Crim. P. 48 was violated when the State failed to bring him to trial within 180 days following his arraignment. On appeal, Defendant argued that his right to a speedy trial was violated and that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress the methamphetamine found in a container inside his truck. The Supreme Court reversed on the speedy trial issue and thus did not address the motion to suppress, holding that Defendant's right to a speedy trial was violated when his trial commenced 194 days after his arraignment. View "Osban v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Defendant's motion for dismissal of the charges against him as a sanction for the State's late discovery, holding that the district court properly exercised its discretion by imposing other sanctions against the State. The State charged Defendant with two counts of aggravated assault and battery with a deadly weapon. More than four months before trial, Defendant demanded from the State any recorded statements he or any witnesses had made. The State had access to the statements at the time of Defendant's request but did not disclose them until three days prior to trial. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the charges with prejudice as a sanction for the State's violation of Wyo. R. Crim. P. 16. The district court denied the motion to dismiss, finding that the state did not act in bad faith when it violated the discovery rules and that Defendant was not prejudiced by the error. Defendant was subsequently convicted of both counts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's motion to dismiss because the court's decision to offer a one-week continuance as a remedy for the violation of discovery rules, along with stipulated exclusion of evidence, was an appropriate remedy under the circumstances. View "Requejo v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court sentencing Defendant a third time for two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of robbery, holding that Defendant's second sentence was legally imposed, and this Court's subsequent decision in State v. Keel, 357 P.3d 251 (Kan. 2015), did not render that sentence illegal. In his first appeal, Defendant argued that the district court miscalculated his criminal history score when it classified his two out-of-state offenses as person crimes, which resulted in a criminal history score of A. The Supreme Court agreed. At resentencing, the district court followed the Supreme Court's mandate and scored Defendant's prior out-of-state convictions as nonperson felonies, resulting in a criminal history score of C. Thereafter, the Supreme Court decided Keel, which overruled State v. Murdock, 323 P.3d 846 (Kan. 2014). The State moved to correct Murdock's sentence, and the district court granted the motion, resentencing Defendant a third time and finding a criminal history score of A. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded with directions to reinstate Defendant's second sentence, holding that Defendant's second sentence was legal when pronounced, and Keel did not render Defendant's second sentence illegal. View "State v. Murdock" on Justia Law