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United States v. Thornton

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

September 9, 2014

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Timothy A. Thornton, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted June 13, 2014.

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

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Paul S. Becker, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Kansas City, MO.

For Timothy A. Thornton, Defendant - Appellant: Carie Allen, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Stephen C. Moss, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Federal Public Defender's Office, Kansas City, MO.

Timothy A. Thornton, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Leavenworth, KS.

Before MURPHY, COLLOTON, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 876

KELLY, Circuit Judge.

Timothy Thornton pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § § 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). Based on Thornton's criminal history, the presentence investigation report (PSR) recommended that he qualified as an " armed career criminal" under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). Over Thornton's objection, the district court agreed and sentenced him to 15 years' imprisonment, the ACCA's mandatory minimum. Because we conclude Thornton lacked the three predicate offenses necessary to be considered an armed career criminal, we vacate his sentence and remand to the district court for resentencing.

I. Background

The ACCA imposes a 15-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for those defendants who unlawfully possess a firearm following three or more convictions for serious drug offenses or violent felonies. 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). The ACCA defines a " violent felony" as any crime that is punishable by more than one year of imprisonment and:

(i) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another; or
(ii) is burglary, arson, or extortion, involves use of explosives, or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential ...

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