United States v. McCain, No. 18-4723 (4th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Six years after defendant received a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for crimes he committed when he was 17 years old, he moved to vacate his sentence in light of the Supreme Court’s intervening decisions in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S. Ct. 718 (2016). The district court resentenced defendant to life imprisonment without parole after concluding that he presents "one of those uncommon cases where sentencing a juvenile to the hardest possible penalty is appropriate."
The Fourth Circuit affirmed and held that, even assuming the district court plainly erred in not vacating defendant's witness tampering by murder conviction, he has not shown that the error affected his substantial rights. The court also held that defendant's sentence of life imprisonment without parole is procedurally reasonable where the district court conducted a thorough resentencing and did not abuse its discretion in its consideration of defendant's age at the time of the offense or his postconviction diagnosis and conduct. Furthermore, the district court amply explained why it concluded that "the harshest possible penalty"—life imprisonment without parole—was appropriate. Finally, the court held that defendant's sentence was not substantively unreasonable where the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that defendant's crimes, committed when he was 7-and-a-half months shy of his 18th birthday, reflected irreparable corruption rather than "the transient immaturity of youth."