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United States v. Gattis

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

December 4, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
GEOFFREY THOMAS GATTIS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued: October 26, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, at Raleigh. Louise W. Flanagan, District Judge. (5:16-cr-00106-FL-1)

         ARGUED:

          Jennifer Claire Leisten, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellant.

          Phillip Anthony Rubin, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Thomas P. McNamara, Federal Public Defender, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellant.

          John Stuart Bruce, United States Attorney, Jennifer P. May-Parker, First Assistant United States Attorney, Seth M. Wood, Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellee.

          Before NIEMEYER, KING, and FLOYD, Circuit Judges.

         Affirmed by published opinion. Judge Niemeyer wrote the opinion, in which Judge King and Judge Floyd joined.

          NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge.

         After Geoffrey Gattis pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), the district court sentenced him to 70 months' imprisonment, at the low end of the Sentencing Guidelines range that it had calculated. In calculating that range, the court applied an enhanced base offense level under U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1(a)(4)(A), based on its conclusion that Gattis had a previous felony conviction for a crime of violence. And it increased that level based, among other things, on its findings that the offense involved 3 to 7 firearms and that Gattis had possessed a firearm in connection with another felony offense. On appeal, Gattis challenges these Guidelines decisions. He argues that his previous North Carolina felony conviction for common law robbery does not qualify as a conviction for a "crime of violence" under the definition in U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a) and that the government's evidence was insufficient to support the other two enhancements.

         We affirm, concluding that Gattis's North Carolina common law robbery conviction categorically qualified as a felony conviction for a crime of violence, as provided in § 2K2.1(a)(4)(A) and defined in § 4B1.2(a). We also conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support the district court's additional enhancements.

         I

         On January 7, 2016, a resident of Oxford, North Carolina, called the Granville County Sheriff's Department to report that his home had been burglarized. Among the items stolen were six firearms - including a 9-millimeter Glock semiautomatic handgun, a .22 caliber Marlin semiautomatic long rifle, and two assault rifles - as well as several fully loaded large capacity magazines and a Kindle Fire tablet in a purple case.

         A few days later, on January 11, 2016, a woman named Ms. Watson, who resided just outside Henderson, in Vance County North Carolina, filed a police report stating that on January 8 she had heard automatic weapon fire and looked out her door to see two men whom she knew - Geoffrey Gattis and Orrie Williams - shooting at a sign at the end of her dead-end street. According to a federal law enforcement agent, Watson stated that she was "very familiar" with Gattis because he stayed with her "on regular occasions" and that she was "concerned" both about the shooting as well as the fact that Gattis and Williams "were using the street as a dump site for household items and furniture."

         The next day, on January 12, 2016, officers with the Henderson Police Department were conducting a driver's license checkpoint when they observed a blue sedan turn around in an apparent effort to evade the checkpoint. They stopped the vehicle - which was driven by Williams and in which Gattis was a passenger - and after an officer asked both men to step out of the car, Gattis attempted to flee on foot before struggling with the officers who apprehended him. After he was apprehended, the officers recovered a loaded ...


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