June 9, 2014 4th Circuit published opinions

United States v Barefoot

Barefoot was convicted of firearms and explosives charges. He challenged the denial of his motion to represent himself, evidentiary rulings and his convictions. The panel affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded with instructions. It affirmed the self representation order holding Barefoot’s ongoing mental illness, the trial judge’s concerns that Barefoot did not understand the warnings about the perils of self representation and his pattern of unauthorized filings were sufficient to deny Barefoot’s motion. The panel found no abuse of discretion in allowing evidence of an uncharged murder as it tended to prove intent in the charged solicitation of a bombing charge and tended to disprove Barefoot’s assertion that he was just talking about the bombing scheme. The panel affirmed Barefoot’s solicitation of a bombing conviction holding that the testimony of the person he attempted to persuade, including the detailed description of his plan, supported an inference that the solicitation was sincere. The panel affirmed Barefoot’s conviction of receiving an explosive device holding that Barefoot’s obtaining the explosives shortly after soliciting a bombing coupled with his previous use of explosives and threats to kill the sheriff who was the target in the bombing scheme supported his conviction. The panel held that because Barefoot’s plea agreement in a prior case did not grant transactional immunity and there was no contemporaneous evidence of an intent to do so, the trail judge properly denied the motion to dismiss the explosive charges in this case. The panel held that because the plea agreement was ambiguous as to the derivative use of the statements made at Barefoot’s debriefing, it adopted the prevailing rule in other circuits that immunity means both direct and derivative immunity. However, because the agreement exempted crimes of violence from the immunity, the panel held that it was necessary to determine the scope of the exception. It held the term “crimes of violence” should be understood to mean the same as the sentencing guidelines definition of the phrase. As one conviction was for a misdemeanor and it was unclear whether another conviction for delivering explosives to a minor met the definition, the panel vacated those convictions. Turning to Barefoot’s sentence, the panel held that the trail judge properly calculated Barefoot’s sentence and the vacated charges did not increase Barefoot’s sentence. Thus, there was no need for a resentencing. The panel held there was a need to amend the judgment to reflect the vacation of the two convictions and remove to remove two special assessments associated with those charges and remanded for these actions to occur.

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