Wheeler v. USA
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the motion to vacate is DENIED, and this action is DISMISSED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Court will not issue a Certificate of Appealability. Signed by District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr on 11/10/2016. (JMC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
No. 1:16-CV-242 SNLJ
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on the motion of Roderick Wheeler to vacate, set aside, or
correct sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The motion is denied.
Movant argues that he is entitled to relief under Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551
(2015), in which the Court held that the “residual clause” of the Armed Career Criminal Act
(“the ACCA”), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii), is unconstitutionally vague. The ACCA enhances
the punishment for firearms offenses under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) when the defendant has at least
three prior convictions for a serious drug offense or a “violent felony.” The term “violent
felony” is defined in the ACCA as felony offense that “(1) has as an element the use, attempted
use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another, or (ii) is burglary, arson, or
extortion, involves the use of explosives, or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious
potential risk of physical injury to another.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(B) (emphasis added). The
“otherwise involves” language of the ACCA is the residual clause that the Supreme Court found
unconstitutional. Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2563.
Movant pled guilty to a controlled substance offense, felon in possession of a firearm,
and a possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The Court sentenced
movant to 78 months’ imprisonment and 3 years’ supervised release. United States v. Wheeler,
No. 1:15-CR-104 SNLJ (E.D. Mo.).
In determining movant’s sentence, the Court reviewed the United States Sentencing
Guidelines § 2K2.1 for offenses occurring under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). As movant committed
the instant offenses subsequent to sustaining one state felony conviction for a controlled
substance offense, see State v. Wheeler, Case No. 14DU-CR00920-01 (35th Judicial Circuit,
Dunklin County Court), movant’s base offense level started at 20.1 Movant did not receive a
Chapter 4 enhancement for any other prior state criminal sentences, and he was not sentenced
under the Armed Career Criminal Act. Because the Court did not enhance his sentence under the
ACCA or Chapter Four, and his prior criminal convictions were not “crimes of violence,”
Johnson does not provide him with relief. As a result, the motion is denied.
Finally, Movant has failed to make a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional
right, which requires a demonstration “that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the
petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right.” Khaimov v. Crist, 297 F.3d
783, 785 (8th Cir. 2002) (quotation omitted). Thus, the Court will not issue a Certificate of
Appealability. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c).
Movant’s sentence was not enhanced by a “crime of violence,” but instead, his base offense
level started higher because of a prior substance abuse conviction. Thus, the holdings in Johnson
and Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243, 2249 (2016) cannot be used to provide movant
relief in this case. Additionally, movant’s citation to the Supreme Court case of Molina-Martinez
v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1338 (2016), for the supposition that it offers him some relief in this
instance is simply incorrect. In Molina-Martinez, the Supreme Court held that a defendant
sentenced under an incorrect Guideline range should be able to rely on that fact to show a
reasonable probability that the district court would have imposed a different sentence under the
correct range. 136 S.Ct. at 1349. Movant has not been sentenced under an incorrect Guideline
range. Accordingly, Molina-Martinez does not apply.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the motion to vacate is DENIED, and this action is
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Court will not issue a Certificate of
Dated this 10th day of November, 2016.
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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