Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Amerson

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

March 27, 2018

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Karl Devon Amerson, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued: March 6, 2018

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan at Grand Rapids. No. 1:16-cr-00176-1-Janet T. Neff, District Judge.

         ARGUED:

          Peter A. VanGelderen, WILLEY & CHAMBERLAIN LLP, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellant.

          Jennifer L. McManus, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Peter A. VanGelderen, WILLEY & CHAMBERLAIN LLP, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellant.

          Alexis M. Sanford, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee.

          Before: COLE, Chief Judge; WHITE and BUSH, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          JOHN K. BUSH, Circuit Judge.

          When are two crimes "part of the same course of conduct?" For a defendant like Karl Amerson, who illegally possessed firearms on two different occasions, the answer under section 1B1.3(a)(2) of the United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG) could mean almost twice as many years in prison.

         Amerson pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm after police officers discovered a rifle and a pistol in his home. In exchange for his plea, the government agreed not to prosecute him for his previous possession of a different handgun, three and a half months before. But that agreement did not bar the government from arguing at sentencing that Amerson's uncharged handgun possession was "part of the same course of conduct" as his rifle-and-pistol conviction and was thus relevant conduct for purposes of calculating Amerson's sentence. The district court agreed with the government. The result? A near doubling of Amerson's sentencing range.

         Amerson contends that this relevant-conduct determination was erroneous because the government showed no connection between the gun possession that resulted in his conviction and his prior gun possession. We agree. For two, non-contemporaneous illegal firearm possessions to be considered part of the same course of conduct, they must, among other factors, be connected by strong evidence of similarity. Because the government failed to prove enough similarity between Amerson's illegal firearm possessions, we reverse the district court's relevant-conduct finding.

         Amerson also appeals the district court's determination that he attempted to obstruct justice, warranting a higher offense level under USSG § 3C1.1. Because the evidence showed that Amerson took a substantial step toward his goal of having someone else claim ownership of his rifle, we affirm the obstruction-of-justice enhancement.

         I.

         The facts are undisputed. On May 6, 2016, in Battle Creek, Michigan, Karl Amerson and some of his friends got into an argument with another group of people at a gas station. Amerson and some of his group left in an Avalanche truck. Shortly after, a white car pulled up beside them and the occupants of the cars shot at each other. Amerson, who was driving the Avalanche, was wounded in the gunfight and drove to a local hospital for treatment. During an investigation of the shooting, police officers recovered spent .40 caliber ammunition casings from the Avalanche. They also seized a .40 caliber handgun from another car associated with the shooting that was also parked outside the hospital. The driver of that car was Jerel Barton, who was "an associate of Mr. Amerson" and was in the Avalanche during the shooting. Appellant's Br. at 5-6. The handgun seized from Barton's vehicle tested positive for Amerson's DNA. Amerson was not arrested or charged for conduct related to this incident.

         About three and a half months later, on August 26, 2016, police officers responded to another call about a gunfight in Battle Creek. The shootout involved occupants of two cars. Officers found one of the involved cars abandoned a half mile from the scene of the gunfight with bullet holes in its exterior. No firearms were found in the vehicle. The officers knew that the car belonged to the girlfriend of one of Amerson's friends, Demarcus Bolden, and that it had often been seen outside Amerson's apartment at 99 Green Street.

         The officers then made two separate visits to Amerson's apartment to look for Bolden. During both visits, Amerson's girlfriend, who was the lessee of the apartment, gave the officers permission to search it. The first search was brief, and after the officers did not find Bolden in the apartment, they left. The officers then interviewed neighborhood witnesses, who reported seeing two black males and a white female leave the car involved in the shooting, observing that the female retrieved a walker from the car for one of the black males who had a severe limp.[1]Based on this information, the officers returned to 99 Green Street.

         Amerson fit the description of one of the males. He is a black male and had trouble walking. In particular, during their second visit to Amerson's residence, the officers observed Amerson sitting on a couch with his leg elevated. He was recovering from having been shot during an altercation at a house party three weeks before. The officers saw Amerson use a walker when he moved.

          At this point, the police searched the apartment for a second time, again with Amerson's girlfriend's consent. Their search resulted in the discovery of a loaded .22 caliber semiautomatic rifle, a loaded .380 caliber semiautomatic pistol, and various cases of ammunition. Amerson ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.