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United States v. Roberts

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 14, 2014

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
Eddie Prince Roberts, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted June 13, 2014.

Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Jefferson City.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Anthony P. Gonzalez, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri, Jefferson City, MO; Philip M. Koppe, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Kansas City, MO.

Eddie Prince Roberts, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Terre Haute, IN.

For Eddie Prince Roberts, Defendant - Appellant: Troy K. Stabenow, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Federal Public Defender's Office, Jefferson City, MO.

Before MURPHY, COLLOTON, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 948

COLLOTON, Circuit Judge.

A jury found Eddie Prince Roberts guilty of two counts of bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a). The district court[1] sentenced Roberts to life imprisonment, because he previously had been convicted of two serious violent felonies. See 18 U.S.C. § 3559(c)(1)(A)(i). Roberts appeals his sentence, and we affirm.

In February 1993, Roberts pleaded guilty to four counts of bank robbery. The presentence report for this case explained tat in three of the four robberies, Roberts threatened to shoot the bank teller if the teller failed to comply with his demands. In August 1999, a jury found Roberts guilty of another bank robbery. This court affirmed Roberts's conviction, noting that Roberts stipulated that Carl Mitchell, with whom Roberts committed the robbery, told the teller: " I want the money

Page 949

and I do have a gun." United States v. Roberts, 47 F.App'x 422, 423 (8th Cir. 2002).

In May 2012, a grand jury charged Roberts with two counts of bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a). Before trial, the government filed notice that it would rely on Roberts's prior convictions to seek a mandatory life sentence as to each count, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3559(c)(1). As relevant here, § 3559(c)(1)(A)(i) provides that " a person who is convicted . . . of a serious violent felony shall be sentenced to life imprisonment if . . . the person has been convicted . . . on separate prior occasions . . . [of] 2 or more serious violent felonies." Bank robbery, attempted bank robbery, and conspiracy to commit bank robbery are all included in § 3559's definition of " serious violent felony." Id. § 3559(c)(2)(F)(i).

Section 3559 also provides an affirmative defense: Once the government establishes that a defendant previously has been convicted of two or more serious violent felonies, the defendant can avoid mandatory life imprisonment if he proves that his prior robberies were nonqualifying felonies. Id. § 3559(c)(3); see United States v. Davis, 260 F.3d 965, 968-69 (8th Cir. 2001). To demonstrate that a bank robbery conviction is a nonqualifying felony, Roberts bore the burden to establish " by clear and convincing evidence that . . . no firearm or other dangerous weapon was used ...


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