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United States v. Stile

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

January 3, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee,
v.
JAMES STILE, Defendant, Appellee.

         APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MAINE [Hon. John A. Woodcock, Jr., U.S. District Judge]

          Alexandra H. Deal for appellant.

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

          Before Howard, Chief Judge, Selya and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.

          KAYATTA, Circuit Judge

         The defendant, James Stile, pled guilty to robbery of a controlled substance from a pharmacy by use of a dangerous weapon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2118(a) and (c)(1). The district court sentenced him to 120 months in prison. He now appeals that sentence on both substantive and procedural grounds. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         I. Background

         We summarize the facts briefly, drawing on the presentence report (PSR) and the transcript of the sentencing hearing. See United States v. Jiminez, 498 F.3d 82, 84 (1st Cir. 2007). We reserve further discussion of the facts for where they become relevant to each issue raised by Stile's appeal.

         In the early evening of September 12, 2011, Stile entered the E.W. Moore & Son Pharmacy in Bingham, Maine. He wore a baseball cap, sunglasses, a dust mask, and purple rubber gloves. As he entered the store, he pulled a sawed-off shotgun from his pants. He walked to the pharmacy counter at the back of the store and ordered three employees to lie on their stomachs. When a customer walked in, Stile forced him behind the pharmacy counter with the employees. Stile handed the owner of the pharmacy a black duffel bag and ordered him to fill it with drugs. Stile tied the hands and feet of the owner, the customer, and the employees with zip ties. He then departed the store, taking $12, 890 worth of drugs and $417 in cash.

         After initially pleading not guilty and going through several preliminary proceedings including a suppression hearing, Stile pled guilty to robbery of a controlled substance from a pharmacy by use of a dangerous weapon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2118(a) and (c)(1). After conducting a sentencing hearing, the district court calculated Stile's advisory sentencing range under the United States Sentencing Guidelines, U.S.S.G. §§ 2B3.1 and 3C1.1, to be 108 to 135 months' imprisonment based on a total offense level of 31 and a criminal history category of I. The district court sentenced Stile to 120 months of imprisonment.

         At sentencing, the district court did three things that Stile now claims were procedural error. First, the district court applied a two-level enhancement to what would have otherwise been a total offense level of 29. The basis for the enhancement was a finding of obstruction of justice under U.S.S.G. § 3C1.1. Second, the district court denied Stile's requested two-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility under U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1(a). Third, the district court did not give the evidence of Stile's drug addiction the weight and effect that Stile claims it warrants. We discuss in turn each of these asserted errors, plus Stile's catch-all argument that his sentence was substantively unreasonable.

         II. Discussion

         A. Obstruction of Justice

         The district court may apply a two-level enhancement to a defendant's offense level

[i]f (1) the defendant willfully obstructed or impeded, or attempted to obstruct or impede, the administration of justice with respect to the investigation, prosecution, or sentencing of the instant offense of conviction, and (2) the obstructive conduct related to . . . ...

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