Justia.com Opinion Summary:
Kelly Maxwell and Natalie Smith each pled guilty to second degree murder. Each received a sentencing guideline range of 168-210 months, but Smith was credited with providing substantial assistance to the government and received a downward departure. The district court sentenced Smith to 121 months imprisonment and varied upward in sentencing Maxwell to 222 months. Both defendants appealed their sentences. As to Maxwell's sentence, the court held that the district court did not err in varying upward on his sentence where the record revealed legitimate distinctions between defendants and in declining to reduce his sentence further due to his mental illness. As to Smith's sentence, the court held that the district court considered her request for a downward departure due to duress and rejected it; the district court gave careful attention to the requirements of 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors; and did not abuse its discretion in imposing the 121 month sentence. Accordingly, the sentences were affirmed.Receive FREE Daily Opinion Summaries by Email
Criminal case - Sentencing. Defendant Maxwell's sentence was not substantively unreasonable and the district court did not err in varying upward in Maxwell's case; the difference in the sentences imposed on defendants Maxwell and Smith was justified by legitimate distinctions in their conduct and backgrounds; district court did not err in denying Maxwell's request for a downward variance based on his mental condition and intellectual abilities; record clearly showed the district court considered and rejected Smith's request for a downward departure under Guidelines Sec.5K2.12, and even if the court erred in not explicitly referencing the section Smith could not show she would have received a lesser sentence but for the alleged error; district court applied the 3553(a) factors to Smith and imposed a substantively reasonable sentence.