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United States v. Lara-Ruiz

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

February 24, 2015

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Gilberto Lara-Ruiz, also known as Hill, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted: January 16, 2015.

Page 920

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

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

Gilberto Lara-Ruiz, also known as: Hill, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Oklahoma City, OK.

For Gilberto Lara-Ruiz, also known as: Hill, Defendant - Appellant: Cenobio Lozano Jr., Harrisonville, MO.

Before COLLOTON, BEAM, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 921

KELLY, Circuit Judge.

Gilberto Lara-Ruiz, for the third time, appeals his sentence for using a firearm during and in relation to a drug-trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i). We conclude that the district court[1] properly resentenced Lara-Ruiz using the five-year statutory minimum and discussed the sentencing factors it found most relevant. Lara-Ruiz's sentence, although high, is not unconstitutional or unreasonable. We thus affirm the judgment.[2]

I. Background

Before this series of appeals, Lara-Ruiz pleaded guilty in 2007 to improper entry into the United States, 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a), and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). As part of the plea, the government agreed not to prosecute Lara-Ruiz for any other offenses related to methamphetamine possession with intent to distribute except for prosecutions involving, among other things, violence against others. Nonetheless, in 2009 Lara-Ruiz was charged in a multi-defendant, 15-count indictment with numerous other drug crimes, as well as possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime and use of a firearm related to a drug-trafficking crime. Evidence at the jury trial showed that Lara-Ruiz had displayed guns to his drug customers and used a handgun to hit another customer in her head and to shoot her unoccupied car. See United States v. Lara-Ruiz (" Lara-Ruiz I" ), 681 F.3d 914, 918 (8th Cir. 2012). Lara-Ruiz's attorney conceded that her client had sold methamphetamine but argued that he had not unlawfully possessed the gun. Id.

Based on the non-prosecution provision in the 2007 plea agreement, the district court granted Lara-Ruiz's motion to dismiss the drug charges. The jury found Lara-Ruiz guilty of both gun charges but, on the possession count, found only that he had received guns in exchange for drugs and drug-debt reduction. Regarding the charge for use of a firearm, however, the jury found Lara-Ruiz ...


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