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Brymer v. United States

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 10, 2019

WILLIAM BRYMER Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA JAMES H. TURPIN, Petitioner.
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          DOUGLAS P. WOODLOCK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         William Brymer and James H. Turpin have filed motions to vacate their sentences pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 contending they were improperly sentenced under a statute enhancing the term of imprisonment for those using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

         On January 5, 2006, Brymer and Turpin were each sentenced imprisonment for 32 years based on their guilty pleas to two counts of violating 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), which prescribes certain punishments for “any person who, during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime . . . used or carries a firearm.” (emphasis added). The predicate “crime[s] of violence” supporting Brymer's and Turpin's § 924(c) convictions were bank robbery (in violation of 18 U.S.C § 2113(a) and (d)) and carjacking (in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2119(1)).

         Based on Supreme Court precedent since their convictions, Brymer and Turpin contend that their predicate crimes no longer constitute “crime[s] of violence” under § 924(c)(3) and, as a result, that they are entitled to post-conviction relief. More recent First Circuit precedent applying the Supreme Court teachings upon which they rely has undercut their contentions. For the reasons explained below, I will deny their motions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background[1]

         Just before 6:00 p.m. August 28, 2003, Brymer and Turpin (both wearing masks) entered the Telephone Workers Credit Union at the South Shore Plaza in Massachusetts. At least one of the men wielded and brandished a large silver revolver. The man with the revolver threatened one teller with the gun and banged the barrel of the gun on the glass during the robbery. The other man approached a second teller and showed her a bag into which she placed the contents of her cash drawer.

         After departing with $5, 756, Brymer and Turpin made off in a stolen van they had been spotted in earlier in the day. Two witnesses (a woman and a security guard from the shopping mall) followed Brymer and Turpin to a location several blocks away where a switch car (also stolen) was waiting. The woman saw Brymer get out of the driver's side of the getaway van and hold up a large silver revolver. The guard arrived shortly after and saw a man hold up a silver revolver and threaten him with it.

         Brymer and Turpin, who had removed their masks, fled in the switch car. After driving the car several blocks, they abandoned it, and carjacked a Dodge pickup truck at gunpoint. During the carjacking, one of the men held the gun to the driver's head and told him he would kill him unless he gave up the truck.

         A few blocks away, the two men abandoned the pickup truck, jumped a fence, and ran onto a highway offramp, where they unsuccessfully attempted to carjack a second car.

         Later that evening, the police picked up Brymer and Turpin in the general area in which they had fled.

         B. Procedural History

         On November 12, 2003, a grand jury charged both defendants with: one count of aggravated bank robbery (in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) and (d)); one count of carjacking (in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2119(1)); one count of attempted carjacking (in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2119(1)); and three counts of use of a firearm during a crime of violence, specifically the three aforementioned offenses (in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)).

         Pursuant to a plea agreement, both Brymer and Turpin pled guilty to Counts Two (violation of § 924(c) with respect to bank robbery) and Four (violation of § 924(c) with respect to carjacking) of the superseding indictment. In exchange, the Government agreed to dismiss the other four counts. The parties agreed to a disposition requiring Brymer and Turpin each to serve the mandatory minimum sentence on both counts consecutively, for a total of 32 years in prison. On ...


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