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United States v. Stoops

filed: June 1, 1994.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
MICHAEL J. STOOPS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. D.C. No. CR-92-355-01-RGS. Roger G. Strand, District Judge, Presiding.

Before: Cecil F. Poole, Robert R. Beezer and Thomas G. Nelson, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Beezer.

Author: Beezer

BEEZER, Circuit Judge:

Michael Stoops appeals the sentence imposed under the United States Sentencing Guidelines following his plea of guilty to one count of bank robbery. Stoops received a two-level downward adjustment for acceptance of responsibility pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1(a). He contends that the district court erred by denying him an additional one-level reduction pursuant to § 3E1.1(b). We vacate the sentence and remand.

I

On August 13, 1992, Stoops approached a teller in a First Interstate Bank branch and handed her a demand note. He falsely claimed to have a firearm. The teller gave him approximately $1,890, and Stoops fled the bank.

Stoops was apprehended within minutes, after a bank patron gave police officers Stoops' license-plate number. The arresting officers advised Stoops of his constitutional rights. Stoops agreed to answer questions, confessed to the crime, and told the officers that the stolen money and the demand note were in a bag behind the passenger seat of his motor vehicle. Stoops was positively identified by the bank teller and two bank patrons. He repeated his admissions to other police officers at the jail, and later to FBI agents.

Stoops was indicted on September 8, 1992, on one count of bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a). On November 10, 1992, Stoops filed notice of intent to rely upon a defense of insanity, pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 12.2. This led to several psychiatric examinations of Stoops. Stoops also moved to suppress his statements and to suppress evidence seized from his motor vehicle at the time of the arrest. The government responded to these motions, and an evidentiary hearing was scheduled for January 11, 1993. Trial was scheduled for January 18, 1993.

On January 8, 1993, Stoops notified the government of his intention to plead guilty. As a result, the district court conducted a change-of-plea hearing rather than a suppression hearing on January 11, 1993. Stoops entered a plea of guilty to the one-count indictment.

The Presentence Report prepared by the Probation Office initially recommended that the district court decrease the offense level by two levels pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1(a) and decrease the offense level an additional level pursuant to § 3E1.1(b). The government opposed the additional one-level reduction on the grounds that Stoops' disclosure of his own involvement in the offense was not timely and that his disclosures did not aid the investigation and prosecution of the case. The Probation Officer outlined the government's objection:

The Government submits the defendant does not qualify for a three-level reduction . . . . [A] confession does not automatically qualify the defendant for the "super acceptance" resulting in a three-level reduction. The defendant challenged the constitutionality of the confession. . . .

After reviewing the chronology of events, the presentence report has been amended to reflect a two-level reduction . . . .

The district court adopted all of the guideline findings set out in the Presentence Report and denied the additional one-level reduction ...


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