In U.S. v. Mock, No. 06-15861 (April 14, 2008), the Court affirmed a defendant’s arson convictions, but reversed the sentence because the district court did not make explicit findings of fact to support its attempted murder enhancement.
The Court rejected a challenge to remarks in the prosecutor’s closing argument, noting that while "colorful," they did not jeopardize the fairness of the trial. The Court also rejected a variety of challenges to the trial court’s evidentiary rulings.
Turning to the sentence, the Court noted that USSG § 2A2.1 provides for a sentence enhancement for arson offenses if the offender "attempted to cause death" by first-degree murder. The trial court imposed this enhancement, without making explicit findings. The Court noted that findings are necessary to facilitate judicial review. The Court therefore vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing.