United States v. McKinnie, No. 19-4888 (4th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's 120 month sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to distribution of a detectable amount of fentanyl. Defendant's conviction was related to Trevor Nelson's death stemming from a drug overdose.
The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing an upward variance under the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) sentencing factors where the district court cited defendant's awareness of the risk involved with distribution of fentanyl, his pattern of recidivism, and the need for general deterrence to support the variance. The court also concluded that defendant's sentence was substantively reasonable where the substantial upward variance was supported by the record and the district court's lengthy sentencing explanation. The court noted that, when drug dealers knowingly ply their customers with what could well be lethal doses, district courts do not abuse their discretion by taking behavior simultaneously destructive of society and individual life into account.