United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
For William Randall Pettie, Defendant: Federal Defender, Laronda Renee Martin, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Federal Defenders - Middle District of Alabama, Montgomery, AL.
For USA, Plaintiff: Curtis Ivy, Jr., Tommie Brown Hardwick, LEAD ATTORNEYS, U.S. Attorney's Office, Montgomery, AL.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Mark E. Fuller, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Following a guilty plea, Defendant William Randall Pettie (" Pettie" ) was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). At the sentencing hearing, defense counsel raised the objection that applying enhancements under § § 2K2.1(b)(6) and 3A1.2(c) of the United States Sentencing Guidelines (" U.S.S.G." ) would constitute impermissible double-counting. The Court disagreed and applied these enhancements cumulatively to determine Pettie's final sentence of seventy-two (72) months. The Court explains herein the reasons for this decision.
On November 18, 2012, Butler County Sheriff's deputies responded to 11504 McKenzie Grade Road regarding threats of suicide. Pettie's aunt, Shirley Green (" Green" ), had called 911 because she feared Pettie would kill himself. Green, who owned the trailer where Pettie was located, reported to 911 operators that Pettie had threatened suicide, had complained that he was in pain, and had told her that it was " time to go."
Sheriff's deputies, who were driving marked patrol cars and wearing police uniforms, arrived and spoke with Pettie's uncle. The uncle informed them that Pettie was barricaded inside the trailer with a shotgun and was threatening to kill himself. As deputies spoke with the uncle, Pettie walked out of the front door of the trailer with a Snake Charmer II .410 caliber shotgun and fired a shot in the air. Pettie then walked back into the trailer as the deputies and Pettie's uncle retreated to a distance of approximately twenty-five yards from the trailer.
Pettie then called his mother and told her to make the deputies leave or he would shoot them and then kill himself. Deputies attempted to negotiate with Pettie for his surrender, but were unsuccessful. Pettie then came out of the trailer and fired a second shot, this time at the deputies. The shot hit near the hood of a patrol car as one deputy sat inside the car. Pettie then engaged in a seven-hour standoff with police, where he came in and out of the trailer while threatening to kill himself. Finally, SWAT team members fired tear gas into the trailer, which resulted in Pettie walking out of the trailer unarmed and surrendering.
On November 27, 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms conducted an interview with Pettie during which he admitted to possessing a shotgun and to firing it twice during the November 18 incident. Pettie claimed, however, that he was unaware law enforcement was present when he fired the shots. Upon further investigation, it was learned Pettie had been convicted previously of two felonies: murder in 1992 and promoting prison contraband in 2006. As a result, Pettie was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) and pled guilty to that charge.
The applicable guideline for offenses in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) is U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1. That section provides a four-level enhancement to a defendant's base offense level if the defendant used or possessed a firearm in connection with another felony offense. In addition to this enhancement, § 3A1.2(c) provides a six-level upward adjustment to a defendant's offense level when the victim is law enforcement personnel and the defendant knows or has reason to know the victim was an officer of the law. Application Note 4 in the Commentary for § 3A1.2 further states that subsection (c) applies in circumstances synonymous to aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer that occur in the course of, or in immediate flight following, another offense.
In this case, the Court applied a four-level enhancement to Pettie's offense level pursuant to § 2K2.1(b)(6)(B) based on Pettie's use or possession of a firearm in connection with a felony offense, which in this case was aggravated assault. The Court also ...