USA v. Mario Evan
Per Curiam OPINION filed : AFFIRMED, decision not for publication. Alice M. Batchelder, Chief Circuit Judge; Damon J. Keith, Circuit Judge and Jane Branstetter Stranch, Circuit Judge.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
File Name: 14a0413n.06
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Jun 10, 2014
DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk
ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED
STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR
THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF
BEFORE: BATCHELDER, Chief Judge; KEITH and STRANCH, Circuit Judges.
PER CURIAM. Mario Evans appeals his 292-month sentence. As set forth below, we
Evans pleaded guilty to a superseding indictment charging him with being a felon in
possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) (Count 1), carjacking in violation of
18 U.S.C. § 2119 (Count 2), and using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of
violence — the carjacking charged in Count 2 — in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (Count 3).
Citing Alleyne v. United States, 133 S. Ct. 2151 (2013), Evans objected to mandatory minimum
sentencing enhancements for Counts 1 and 3 based on facts not alleged in the indictment. At
sentencing, the district court overruled Evans’s objection and determined that a fifteen-year
mandatory minimum applied to Count 1 and a seven-year consecutive mandatory minimum
applied to Count 3. The district court calculated the advisory guidelines range as 292 to 365
months of imprisonment pursuant to USSG § 4B1.1(c)(3). After considering the sentencing
United States v. Evans
factors under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), the district court sentenced Evans to concurrent terms of
208 months on Count 1 and 180 months on Count 2 and a consecutive term of 84 months on
Count 3, for a total of 292 months of imprisonment. On appeal, Evans contends that the district
court (1) misapplied Alleyne in concluding that it was bound by the enhanced mandatory
minimum sentences for Counts 1 and 3 and (2) abused its discretion in imposing a substantively
In Alleyne, the Supreme Court held that any fact that increases the mandatory minimum
is an element of the crime and therefore, under the Sixth Amendment, must be included in the
indictment, submitted to the jury, and found beyond a reasonable doubt. 133 S. Ct. at 2155.
Evans’s Alleyne argument is constitutional in nature and therefore triggers de novo review. See
United States v. Anderson, 695 F.3d 390, 398 (6th Cir. 2012).
A defendant who is convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of
18 U.S.C. § 922(g) and has three previous convictions for a violent felony or a serious drug
offense is subject to an enhanced mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years. 18 U.S.C.
§ 924(e). Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Almendarez-Torres v. United States, 523 U.S.
224 (1998), “it has been well-settled that ‘a judge is permitted to find, based on the
preponderance of the evidence, the fact of a prior conviction.’” United States v. Pritchett, __
F.3d __, Nos. 11-6489, 11-6490, 11-6491, 11-6495, 2014 WL 1378132, at *13 (6th Cir. Apr. 9,
2014) (quoting United States v. Martin, 526 F.3d 926, 941 (6th Cir. 2008)). In Alleyne, “the
Supreme Court specifically declined to disturb the narrow exception for the fact of a prior
conviction established by Almendarez-Torres.” Id.; see United States v. Mack, 729 F.3d 594,
609 (6th Cir. 2013) (“Although Almendarez-Torres may stand on shifting sands, the case
presently remains good law and we must follow it until the Supreme Court expressly overrules
United States v. Evans
it.”), cert. denied, 134 S. Ct. 1338 (2014). Accordingly, the district court properly concluded
that a fifteen-year mandatory minimum applied to Count 1 based on Evans’s prior convictions.
A defendant who brandishes a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence is
subject to a consecutive mandatory minimum sentence of seven years.
§ 924(c)(1)(A)(ii), (D)(ii). The government concedes that the district court violated Alleyne by
applying the seven-year mandatory minimum because the indictment did not allege that Evans
brandished the firearm, but it contends that this error was harmless because Evans knew about
the enhanced mandatory minimum for brandishing a firearm before he pleaded guilty and
admitted to brandishing the firearm. We have applied harmless error analysis to an indictment’s
failure to allege an element of a crime. United States v. Stewart, 306 F.3d 295, 322-23 (6th Cir.
2002). “Harmless error may be established ‘where the government is able to prove that none of
the defendant’s substantial rights have been affected by the error.’” United States v. Gillis,
592 F.3d 696, 699 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting United States v. Oliver, 397 F.3d 369, 381 (6th Cir.
2005)); see Fed. R. Crim. P. 52(a).
During the plea hearing, the district court advised Evans that, if he “brandished the
firearm, then the penalty would be not less than seven years in prison.” (RE 138, Plea Trans.,
Page ID # 237). Evans affirmed that he understood the potential statutory penalties. Id. With
this knowledge, Evans still pleaded guilty. See United States v. Yancy, 725 F.3d 596, 602-03
(6th Cir. 2013) (finding no plain error where “[t]he defendant understood the charge against him
(firearm use during a crime of violence), knew the consequences of brandishing (the seven-year
minimum), and voluntarily pleaded guilty, admitting that he did in fact brandish the weapon
during the carjacking”).
United States v. Evans
Evans asserts that the district court could have given him an opportunity to admit that he
brandished the firearm. While Evans did not use the word “brandish,” he admitted to facts
establishing that he brandished a firearm. “Brandish” means “to display all or part of the
firearm, or otherwise make the presence of the firearm known to another person, in order to
intimidate that person, regardless of whether the firearm is directly visible to that person.” 18
U.S.C. § 924(c)(4). At the plea hearing, Evans admitted that he showed the victims his gun and
took their car. According to the prosecutor, the government would have proved at trial that
Evans, who was armed, followed Judy Russell to her car, demanded her car, purse, and cell
phone, and struck her hand with his pistol, breaking her finger. The prosecutor further stated that
when Dustin Russell, Judy’s son, came to her aid, Evans threatened him with the gun. Evans
conceded that the prosecutor’s statement of the facts was correct. According to the facts set forth
in the presentence report, Evans approached Judy’s car, tapped on the driver’s side window with
a pistol, and told Judy to “give me the keys and get out of the car.” (PSR ¶ 7). After Judy exited
the vehicle, Evans ordered her to “give me your purse” and struck her hand with the pistol,
breaking her little finger. (Id.). When Dustin arrived at his mother’s car, Evans pointed the gun
at his face and said, “I am going to blow your ass off.” (PSR ¶ 8). By withdrawing his
objections to the facts set forth in the presentence report, Evans admitted those facts. See United
States v. Adkins, 429 F.3d 631, 632-33 (6th Cir. 2005).
The brandishing element is supported by uncontroverted evidence — Evans’s admissions
— and the record lacks evidence that could rationally lead to a finding that Evans did not
brandish the firearm.
See Stewart, 306 F.3d at 323.
Accordingly, the Alleyne error was
United States v. Evans
We review the substantive reasonableness of Evans’s sentence under an abuse-ofdiscretion standard. Gall v. United States, 552 U.S. 38, 51 (2007). “A sentence may be
considered substantively unreasonable when the district court selects a sentence arbitrarily, bases
the sentence on impermissible factors, fails to consider relevant sentencing factors, or gives an
unreasonable amount of weight to any pertinent factor.” United States v. Conatser, 514 F.3d
508, 520 (6th Cir. 2008). We afford a rebuttable presumption of substantive reasonableness to
Evans’s within-guidelines sentence. United States v. Adkins, 729 F.3d 559, 564 (6th Cir. 2013).
Evans contends that his sentence was substantively unreasonable because it was based on
the district court’s incorrect conclusion that it was required to impose a mandatory minimum of
twenty-two years (fifteen years as to Count 1 in addition to seven years as to Count 3). As
discussed above, the enhanced mandatory minimums applied to Evans. After considering the
§ 3553(a) factors, including the seriousness of Evans’s offense, his significant criminal history,
and his acceptance of responsibility, the district court imposed a sentence at the bottom of the
guidelines range, noting that “[t]his is a case where one could easily go higher.” (RE 170, Sent.
Trans., Page ID # 490). Evans asserts that the sentence was “unreasonably too lengthy.” “The
mere fact that [Evans] desired a more lenient sentence, without more, is insufficient to justify our
disturbing the reasoned judgment of the district court.”
481 F.3d 409, 413 (6th Cir. 2007).
For the foregoing reasons, we affirm Evans’s sentence.
United States v. Trejo-Martinez,
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