United States v. Nieves-Mercado, No. 15-1627 (1st Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Nieves and two other men traveling on a Puerto Rico highway pulled alongside a car stopped at a traffic light. Nieves exited the vehicle, carrying "a long pointed tip object" to the driver's side of the car. He ordered the driver to get out. When she did not immediately comply, he opened the driver's side door, yanked the driver from her seat, and pushed her toward the highway lane divider. Nieves drove away in her car. The vehicle in which he arrived fled. Hours later, reports surfaced of three armed individuals disassembling a matching vehicle in Canóvanas. Police responded and took both men into custody. Their investigation confirmed that the car was the vehicle carjacked hours earlier. Nieves, arrested the following day, waived his constitutional rights, admitted to participating in the carjacking, and was charged under 18 U.S.C. 2119(1). Nieves pled guilty; the government agreed to recommend a sentence in "the middle range of the applicable guideline," with no stipulation as to criminal history category. His 60-month sentence exceeded by nine months the top of the guidelines range and by 14 months the government's recommendation. The First Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the court abused its discretion by considering unreliable evidence (statement by a codefendant concerning the reasons for disassembling the stolen car), by varying upward based on information already factored into the guidelines range, and by ignoring "the significant mitigating factor" of his youth.