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Unpublished cases track 4CA sentence review

Since federal sentencing guidelines became “advisory,” defense lawyers may be trying to track even unpublished 4th Circuit cases, just to see how a particular federal judge applies the guidelines to a given defendant.

The defendant in U.S. v. Trent will get another shot at sentencing. A Newport News cop pulled Hakim Trent’s purple Ford Escort because Trent was wanted in Portsmouth for attempted capital murder of a police officer. After his state court trial for attempted murder ended in a hung jury, Trent pleaded guilty to a federal charge of being a felon in possession of the .38 caliber revolver found in the Escort.

Eastern District Judge Walter D. Kelley Jr. said Trent’s guideline range of 30 to 37 months in prison was not enough time. Among other factors, Kelley pointed to Trent’s “guns.” But he wasn’t talking about built-up biceps earned with extra gym time. Trent had “pictures of guns tattooed on each forearm.” The judge sentenced Trent to 108 months in prison.

The 4th Circuit vacated Trent’s sentence on March 28, saying a lot had happened since the sentencing and the district court should take another look, in light of more recent law on the advisory guidelines.

Jamal Crump is stuck with his sentence. On March 27, the 4th Circuit upheld Western District Judge Samuel G. Wilson’s 320-month sentence for Crump, who pleaded guilty to distributing five or more grams of cocaine base. The guidelines range was 292-360 months, and the 26-year-old Crump, who said he had been dealing since age 17, cited his plea, his kids and his cooperation, in mitigation. The appellate court said in U.S. v. Crump that the sentence, which registered in the bottom half of the guidelines range, was reasonable.

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