Wednesday, June 28, 2017

70-day Term of Imprisonment for Kidnapping Defendant Affirmed

United States v. DeRusse, 2017WL2641051 (June 20, 2017) (KS): The panel affirms a 70-day imprisonment term for kidnaping and rejects the government’s challenge that the sentence was substantively unreasonable. Using a BB gun, DeRusse took his ex-girlfriend from her parents home in Texas and hoped to convince her to marry him. He drove several hundred miles before he was arrested in Kansas. The forensic psychologist that evaluated DeRusse diagnosed him with major depressive disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The district court and in turn, the panel, were impressed by the following facts; the offense fell far outside the heartland, it was not motivated by any evil or ill intentions, it was aberrational behavior from a first time offender suffering from a severe, then-undiagnosed mental illness and there was no reason to believe he would commit a similar crime again. The panel said the district court meaningfully discussed the statutory sentencing factors in the context of these facts and its decision to add a five year term of supervised release to the time served jail term did not exceed the bounds of permissible choice. The government’s appeal, commented the panel, amounted to a disagreement with the way in which the district court weighed the statutory sentencing factors. J. Baldock dissented. According to him, the “heinous nature” of the offense demanded more exacting punishment.