USA v. Darren Little
Per Curiam OPINION filed : Little's sentence of 173 months imprisonment is AFFIRMED. Decision not for publication pursuant to local rule 206. Richard F. Suhrheinrich, Circuit Judge; Julia Smith Gibbons, Circuit Judge and David W. McKeague, Circuit Judge.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
File Name: 12a0036n.06
Jan 10, 2012
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
LEONARD GREEN, Clerk
ON APPEAL FROM THE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT
COURT FOR THE EASTERN
DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
BEFORE: SUHRHEINRICH, GIBBONS, and McKEAGUE, Circuit Judges.
PER CURIAM. Darren Little, a federal prisoner, appeals the sentence imposed following
his 2009 guilty plea to conspiring to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine.
The offense of conviction had a mandatory minimum sentence of 120 months and a
maximum of life imprisonment. The presentence report calculated the guidelines sentencing range
at 151 to 188 months. The district court found that Little was entitled to a 67-month downward
departure for a state prison sentence he served based on relevant conduct, pursuant to USSG
§ 5K2.23. This effectively lowered the guidelines range to 120 to 121 months. However, the district
court determined that an upward variance to 240 months was appropriate. After giving Little credit
for the 67 months spent in state custody, the district court judge sentenced Little to 173 months of
imprisonment. On appeal, Little argues that the sentence was substantively unreasonable in that it
gave unreasonable weight to his criminal history.
United States v. Little
We review a sentence for reasonableness under an abuse-of-discretion standard. United
States v. Carter, 510 F.3d 593, 600 (6th Cir. 2007). Review of the sentencing transcripts reveals that
the district court considered the relevant sentencing factors in arriving at the sentence in this case.
It noted that Little had been sentenced to ten years of imprisonment in a state court proceeding for
distributing cocaine, had been paroled four times and had been reincarcerated because he continued
to distribute cocaine. Therefore, the court concluded that a sentence greater than ten years was
required to deter Little’s drug trafficking. It also noted that Little’s criminal history, in addition to
his drug convictions, included domestic violence and driving under the influence. Therefore, there
was a need to protect the public from Little’s drug trafficking, domestic violence, and impaired
driving. The district court also considered the serious nature of the offense, Little’s need for
treatment and other programs available during his incarceration, and the need to teach Little respect
for the law.
We give considerable deference to sentencing decisions due to trial judges’ experience in
sentencing. United States v. Poynter, 495 F.3d 349, 351-52 (6th Cir. 2007). We do not determine
whether the district court could have given a lower sentence, but whether it must have done so. See
United States v. Smith, 516 F.3d 473, 478 (6th Cir. 2008). Here, Little has demonstrated no abuse
of discretion by the sentencing judge. Accordingly, Little’s sentence of 173 months imprisonment
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