United States v. Melgar-Cabrera, No. 16-2018 (10th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
This case arose from two restaurant robberies in 2009, during one of which, defendant-appellant Francisco Melgar-Cabrera’s cohorts shot and killed a waitress. Defendant was charged with numerous crimes but was not immediately tried because he fled to El Salvador. He was extradited in 2013 and subsequently convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for causing the death of a person while using a gun to commit an 18 U.S.C. section 924(c) crime of violence. He appealed, contending that the underlying crime for which he was charged, was not categorically a crime of violence. An additional issue this case raised for the Tenth Circuit's consideration was the fact that in the Tenth Circuit, section 924(j) has been held to constitute a sentencing enhancement, not a separate crime. The Court raised this issue because the El Salvador Supreme Court granted defendant's extradition only after holding that he could not be charged with or convicted of a section 924(c) crime. The government subsequently re-indicted defendant, charging him with violating 924(j), and he was convicted of that “crime” rather than a 924(c) offense. Defendant challenged his conviction on appeal to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, but finding no reversible error in the proceedings, the Court affirmed defendant's conviction.