United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on a motion under 28 U.S.C. §
2255 to vacate, set aside or correct sentence by Christin
Isaiah Barnes, a person in federal custody. On May 17, 2017,
Barnes plead guilty before this Court to the offense of
conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and distribution of
methamphetamine. On August 23, 2017, this Court sentenced
Barnes to the Bureau of Prisons for a term of 120 months.
Barnes' § 2255 motion, which is based on several
allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel, is fully
briefed and ripe for disposition.
of 2015, DEA Agents began an investigation into the drug
trafficking activities of a Stanley William Gunter. (PSR
¶ 12)2 As the investigation progressed Agents
used an undercover officer to purchase methamphetamine from
Gunter in September, October and December of 2015.
Id. In January of 2016, Barnes, Gunter and
co-conspirator Rosa Guzman met at a drug “stash
house” in Jackson Missouri. (PSR ¶ 13)
February 5, 2016, Barnes directed Gunter to provide Guzman
with two ounces of Methamphetamine, which Guzman was to
deliver to an unidentified female subject. (PSR ¶ 14)
Gunter told Barnes that he would send money back with Guzman
as well. Id.
February 8, 2016, Guzman was stopped by police in St. Charles
County Missouri, for following too closely. (PSR ¶ 16) A
search of Guzman's black Mercedes was conducted after a
police drug detecting canine alerted to the vehicle.
Id. $6, 180.00 United States currency was seized
from Guzman's purse after the dog alerted as well.
Id. Guzman told officers that she was returning to
the Kansas City area after going to Cape Girardeau Missouri
for the purposes of retrieving a gun belonging to Barnes
which was in the custody of the police department.
Id. The gun had been seized after Barnes had been
wounded in an exchange of gunfire which occurred in January
of 2015 at the residence of a friend in Cape Girardeau. (PSR
PSR: Presentence Report in the underlying criminal cause,
1:16 CR 104 SNLJ.
April 9, 2016, Officers executed a search warrant at the
stash house, seizing methamphetamine, drug scales, two
handguns, a drug ledger, and drug packaging materials. (PSR
was interviewed about the conspiracy and indicated that he
had met Barnes in the spring of 2014, and that Barnes had
provided him with one half ounce of methamphetamine every two
to three weeks for six months, and with two ounce quantities
every two to three weeks between October 2014 and July of
2015. (PSR ¶ 22) In July of 2015, Barnes provided Gunter
with one pound of methamphetamine, and then two additional
pounds, including one pound in March 2016. Id.
29, 2016, Barnes directed Gunter to contact Guzman, who would
provide Gunter with methamphetamine. Gunter met with Guzman,
who provided him with 169.80 grams of methamphetamine. (PSR
September 7, 2016, Barnes and Guzman were arrested in Kansas
City Missouri. (PSR ¶ 21) A consent search of Barnes and
Guzman's residence resulted in the seizure of a loaded
handgun, which Barnes admitted belonged to him, marijuana,
drug scales and numerous rounds of ammunition. Id.
Gunter and Guzman were indicted and charged with conspiracy
to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. (Doc 1,
Cause 1:16 CR 104 SNLJ) Barnes entered an “open”
plea of Guilty on May 17, 2017, and the matter was set for a
sentencing hearing. (PSR ¶ 1) The presentence report
recommended that the offense level was 32 pursuant to Section
2D1.1(c)(4), as the offense involved at least 1.5 kilograms
of methamphetamine. (PSR ¶ 30) The report also
recommended that two levels be added pursuant to Section
2D1.1(b)(1) (PSR ¶ 31), that two levels be added as
Barnes was an organizer leader, manager or supervisor under
Section 3B1.1(c) (PSR ¶ 34), and that two levels be
added as the defendant maintained a premises for the purpose
of manufacturing or distributing a controlled substance under
Section 2D1.1(b)(12). (PSR ¶ 34) Three levels were
deducted for acceptance of responsibility and the total
offense level was recommended as being 35. (PSR ¶ 39)
criminal history consisted of a single one point misdemeanor
conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia. (PSR ¶
43) With a total offense level of 35 and a criminal history
category of I, the advisory guidelines range was determined
to be 168 to 210 months. (PSR ¶ 75)
initially objected to the enhancement for the possession of
the weapon, and for maintaining the premises for the purposes
of distributing a controlled substance. (Doc 112, 1:16 CR 104
SNLJ) Barnes would later withdraw his objection to the
enhancement for possession of the weapon and the government
would concede Barnes objection to the applicability of the
enhancement for maintaining the premises for the purposes of
distributing a controlled substance. (Doc 128, 1:16 CR 104
SNLJ) (Tr. Sent. pp. 2-5)
sentencing Barnes' counsel complained of the fact that
Gunter was not assessed an enhancement for being a leader or
organizer, while contesting the two level enhancement for
Barnes being a leader or Organizer, arguing that Barnes was
“as much a middle man as he is a leader or an
organizer, and I object to those two points”. (Tr.
Sent. P.10) This Court rejected that argument, stating:
“Okay. I understand the argument completely. It's
very clear that the two-level enhancement is appropriately
applied to this defendant, and I don't see how it would
be applied to the co-defendant….” (Tr. Sent. P.
adjusted sentencing guidelines range was determined to be
135-168 months. (Tr. Sent. p. 7) This Court granted a
downward variance and sentenced Barnes to 120 Months
concurrent as to each count. (Tr. Sent. P. 20)
appealed, arguing that the sentence imposed was substantively
unreasonable, however the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
affirmed the judgement in an unpublished ...