United States v. Friend, No. 20-4129 (4th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's resentence for charges related to a series of violent carjackings, which defendant actively participated in when he was fifteen-years old.
The court concluded that defendant's punishment was carefully tailored and there was no Eighth Amendment violation. In this case, defendant's 52-year sentence did not violate Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 465 (2012), and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 577 U.S. 190, 212 (2016). The court rejected defendant's contention that his sentence amounts to a de facto life sentence, concluding that defendant would be released in his sixties, which allows him "a limited period of freedom."
The court also concluded that defendant's 52-year sentence was procedurally reasonable where the district court discussed each of defendant's mitigating arguments; gave defendant some credit for his maturation in prison; and addressed defendant's concerns regarding sentence disparities. However, the district court also highlighted the brutal nature of the carjackings and murders. The court also concluded that the sentence was substantively reasonable where the district court imposed a sentence many years below the advisory Guidelines range; did not abuse its discretion by placing significant weight on the seriousness of defendant's offense; and weighed the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) sentencing factors.