Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Some Convictions Vacated, But Sentence Still Stands

US v. Barefoot: In 2002, Barefoot pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm while under a domestic violence protective order after he was found in possession of scores of guns and explosives and a pair of Kinestik "binary explosive cartridges" were found in his son's possession.  As part of the plea agreement, the Government agreed not to prosecute him for "conduct constituting the basis for the Indictment" or to use statements made during debriefing in future proceedings not involving "crimes of violence."  Barefoot gave a lengthy debriefing in which he (among other things) admitted obtaining the Kinestik charges and being involved with the murder of a fellow KKK member who was believed to be an informant.

After being finishing his sentence on the 2002 charge, Barefoot was charged in state court with involvement in the informant's murder.  He was also charged with a new six-count federal indictment with: (1) conspiracy to possess stolen firearms; (2) possession of stolen firearms; (3) solicitation to arson involving a local courthouse that also contained a VA office; (4) receiving explosives, that is the Kinestik charges; (5) improper storage of explosive materials (a misdemeanor); and (6) distributing explosive materials to a person under 21 years of age.  He went to trial and was convicted on all charges.  He was sentenced to 60 months on Count 1, a consecutive 120-month term on the other felony charges (to be run concurrently with each other), and a 12-month sentence on the misdemeanor, to run concurrently with the other imposed sentences.

Barefoot challenged his convictions and sentences on multiple grounds.  The Fourth Circuit reversed two of his convictions, but affirmed the others as well as his sentence.  First, it concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion  by denying Barefoot's request that he represent himself at trial due to concerns about his ability to do so given previous concerns about his competency.  Second, it concluded that evidence about Barefoot's involvement with the informant's murder was admissible under FRE 404(b) to show the animosity between him and the sheriff whose office was in the courthouse that would have been bombed.  Third, the court found there was sufficient evidence to convict Barefoot on Counts 3 and 4.  On Counts 5 and 6, the court concluded that they were not "crimes of violence" and therefore the plea agreement immunized Barefoot from being subject to those charges.  Therefore, the court vacated those convictions.  However, the court concluded (after concluding that the district court correctly grouped the various offenses), that the vacation of those charges "had no material effect on his sentence" and therefore declined to order a remand for resentencing.

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