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United States v. Collins

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

January 22, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee,
v.
GARRY COLLINS, Defendant, Appellant

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MAINE. Hon. D. Brock Hornby, U.S. District Judge.

Lauren Wille, with whom John Paul DeGrinney and DeGrinney Law Offices were on brief, for appellant.

Renée M. Bunker, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Thomas E. Delahanty II, United States Attorney, was on brief, for appellee.

Before Torruella, Lynch, and Barron, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 64

BARRON, Circuit Judge.

Garry Collins appeals his conviction for possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). He does so by challenging the District Court's denial of his pre-trial motion to suppress evidence. He also appeals his 200-month prison sentence on the ground that the District Court erroneously applied the United States Sentencing Guidelines' career offender enhancement to him. We affirm.

I.

At approximately 10:00 a.m. on June 4, 2013, John Morin, an officer with the Portland Police Department, responded to a report that two individuals on Emery Street in Portland, Maine were fighting about drugs.[1] Those two individuals were Collins and Kristie Parsons. When Officer Morin arrived at the scene, Collins was seated in the driver's seat of Parsons's car, and Parsons was standing next to the car.

Upon running a check on the license plate on Parsons's car, Officer Morin discovered that Parsons was on bail, and he concluded that her bail conditions permitted the search of her vehicle. And so Officer Morin searched her vehicle. He found a hypodermic needle protruding from under the driver's seat, two or three key cards from the Clarion Hotel (where Parsons said she was staying) in the center console, and a blue gym bag in the back seat.

Morin asked Collins and Parsons to whom the gym bag belonged, and Collins and Parsons each denied that the bag was theirs. Parsons said that the bag belonged to " [t]he guy from [room] 133" with " some weird name." Officer Morin searched the bag, which contained not only men's clothing, underwear, and sneakers, but also cocaine, empty " sandwich bags," and razor blades.

Collins was charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). Prior to trial, he moved to suppress the evidence found in Parsons's car, including the evidence found in the gym bag. After an evidentiary hearing at which no one -- including Collins -- claimed ownership in the gym bag, the District Court denied the motion. Collins then entered a straight guilty plea to the single count charged, but he reserved the right to challenge the District Court's denial of his suppression motion.

The case proceeded to sentencing, and the District Court sentenced Collins as a career offender, pursuant to § 4B1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines. The resulting sentencing range under the guidelines was 262 to 327 months' imprisonment, but the District Court imposed a ...


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