Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

King: Affirming 1,062 month sentence for string of armed robberies

In U.S. v. King, No. 12-16268 (June 9, 2014), the Court affirmed convictions for a string of armed robberies, and a sentence of 1,062 months. The Court rejected the argument that the government failed to present sufficient evidence that the gun King brandished during the robbery was capable of firing a projectile, noting that victims of the robberies testified that the weapon was “thrust directly in their faces.” The Court rejected the argument that the jury should have been given an instruction that “people may have greater difficulty in accurately identifying members of a different race.” While recognizing that in some cases such a “cross-racial identification” instruction might be appropriate, the Court found that the facts did not warrant this instruction in this case, noting that King did not cross-examine any of the witnesses to determine whether they had difficulty making cross-racial identifications. The Court agreed with King that, in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Alleyne, it was error to convict King of brandishing a firearm in violation of § 924(c) without submitting the “brandishing” issue to the jury. However, the error was harmless in light of the “extensive evidence that king brandished a firearm.” The Court rejected the argument that the issue whether King’s firearm convictions were “second or subsequent” should have been presented to the jury. The Court found that, under Almendarez-Torres, it was proper for the district court to decide this question. Finally, the Court rejected King’s challenge to the reasonableness of his 1,062-month sentence, noting the district court’s observations about his lack of remorse and his likelihood to recidivate.