United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Michelle E. Jones and Nathan P. Petterson, Assistant United States Attorneys, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, for plaintiff.
Carolina A. Lamas, NEIGHBORHOOD JUSTICE CENTER,
and John C. Conrad, LAW OFFICES OF JOHN C. CONRAD, for defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RULING ON DISPUTED SENTENCING ISSUES
JOHN R. TUNHEIM, District Judge.
This matter came before the Court on an evidentiary hearing related to certain sentencing enhancements sought to be applied by the United States to Defendant Timothy Glen Caskey's conviction for kidnapping and bank robbery. Based on the evidence presented at the hearing, the Court concludes that the United States has demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that Caskey used a dangerous weapon during the commission of the kidnapping, held the victim for more than seven days, and sexually exploited the victim. Accordingly, the Court will apply the three sentencing enhancements in calculating Caskey's sentencing range under the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
On September 21, 2011, Caskey was charged with kidnapping in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a) and interstate domestic violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2261(a)(2), (b)(3) and (b)(4). (Indictment, Sept. 21, 2011, Docket No. 12.) Caskey was also charged with bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) in the District of Kansas. The bank robbery prosecution was transferred to this District on February 6, 2014. (Criminal Case No. 14-36, Consent to Transfer, Feb. 6, 2014, Docket No. 1; Criminal Case No. 14-36, Indictment, Feb. 6, 2014, Docket No. 2.)
Caskey pled guilty to kidnapping and bank robbery on February 6, 2014. (Minute Entry, Feb. 6, 2014, Docket No. 119.) Thereafter the United States Probation Office prepared a Presentence Investigation Report ("PSR"). The PSR calculated Caskey's base offense level under the Guidelines as 32. (PSR ¶ 19.) The PSR also recommended a two-level increase for use of a dangerous weapon under U.S.S.G. § 2A4.1(b)(3); a one-level increase because the victim was not released for a period of more than seven days, but less than thirty days under U.S.S.G. § 2A4.1(b)(4); and a six-level increase because the victim was sexually exploited under U.S.S.G. § 2A4.1(b)(5). (PSR ¶¶ 20-22.) The PSR also recommended a three-level downward adjustment for acceptance of responsibility under U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1(a) and (b), yielding an adjusted offense level of 38. (PSR ¶¶ 39-41.) The PSR also calculated Caskey's criminal history as a category VI, which resulted in a recommended Guidelines range of 360 months to life imprisonment.
Caskey objected to the two-level enhancement for use of a dangerous weapon, the one-level enhancement for holding the victim for a period of more than seven days, and the six-level enhancement for sexual exploitation of the victim. The Court held an evidentiary hearing on these objections on June 27, 2014. (Minute Entry, June 27, 2014, Docket No. 143.) At the hearing, the United States presented testimony from the victim of Caskey's kidnapping crime - R.L.C.
I. EVIDENTIARY STANDARD
At sentencing, the government bears the burden of proving "the facts necessary to establish a sentencing enhancement." United States v. Brooks, 648 F.3d 626, 629 (8th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). This burden is satisfied if the government demonstrates "by a preponderance of the evidence" the facts supporting a sentencing enhancement. Id. (internal quotation marks omitted); see also United States v. Villareal-Amarillas, 562 F.3d 892, 895 (8th Cir. 2009).
II. USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON
Under the Guidelines, a two-level enhancement applies if a dangerous weapon was used during commission of a kidnapping offense. U.S.S.G. § 2A4.1(b)(3). A dangerous weapon means "an instrument capable of inflicting death or serious bodily injury." U.S.S.G. § 1B1.1, comment 1(D). To use a weapon in the context of this Guidelines provision "means to do more than possess, brandish, or display it." United States v. Coyle, 309 F.3d 1071, 1075 (8th Cir. 2002).
At the evidentiary hearing R.L.C. testified that Caskey forced her into his truck in Virginia, Minnesota, and shortly thereafter started "beating" her with a screwdriver. (Evidentiary Hearing Tr. ("Tr.") 8-9.) R.L.C. testified that Caskey hit her on her left arm and leg with the handle of the screwdriver "[m]any, many, many times." (Tr. 9-11.) While Caskey was hitting her, R.L.C. explained that she was "[s]creaming and crying and telling him to stop." (Tr. 10.) R.L.C. testified that she developed bruises on her left side that lasted for approximately three weeks as a result of the beating. (Tr. 11-12.) On cross-examination, defense counsel confronted R.L.C. with the fact that no screwdriver had ever been recovered from Caskey's truck according to the New Braunfels Police Department report and inventory. (Tr. 64.) Defense counsel asked, "[y]ou would agree that no one ever found that screwdriver there, either?" to which R.L.C. responded "[t]here was a screwdriver, and I was beat up with a screwdriver, so I don't know what he did with it." (Tr. 64.) R.L.C. testified that she did not see Caskey dispose of the ...