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United States v. Boyd

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 2, 2015

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Keisha Leighann Boyd, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted January 16, 2015.

Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas - Little Rock.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Anne E. Gardner, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Chris Givens, U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Arkansas, Little Rock, AR.

Keisha Leighann Boyd, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Aliceville, AL.

For Keisha Leighann Boyd, Defendant - Appellant: Justin Eisele, Justin Eisele, Greenbelt, MD.

Before WOLLMAN, SMITH, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.

Keisha Leighann Boyd appeared before the district court at a sentencing revocation hearing. Boyd faced revocation based on multiple technical violations of her supervised release and based on an allegation of burglary or theft. The district court determined that Boyd had committed a Grade A violation and sentenced her to 19 months imprisonment. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

I.

Boyd was convicted of aiding and abetting the distribution of methamphetamine. After one unsuccessful attempt at supervised release that resulted in additional prison time, Boyd was again placed on supervised release in January 2014. In May 2014, the government sought to revoke Boyd's supervised release. At the revocation hearing, Jay Hudson, Boyd's supervising probation officer, testified he had been assigned only in May 2014 to supervise Boyd after Michelle Sims, Boyd's previous supervising probation officer, retired.

Officer Hudson began testifying about Boyd's alleged violations of supervised release. Boyd objected under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32.2 because Hudson testified based on the file maintained by the probation office. Boyd argued " just because the probation officer [Sims] is not working there does not mean she is not available" and " this witness [Hudson] has no personal knowledge of whether [the underlying violations] did or did not happen." (Revoc. Tr. at 11 and 13.) The district court overruled the objections, holding that because Officer Hudson, the now-supervising probation officer, was available to testify concerning the contents of Boyd's probation file, it was unnecessary to " go get Michelle Sims off retirement and subpoena her a couple of hundred miles away to come into the courtroom and testify about it." (Revoc. Tr. at 28.)

Jonesboro Police Officer Brandon King testified that Jonesboro police officers conducted a traffic stop of Boyd's vehicle based on a tip Officer King had received indicating Boyd was involved with stolen property. During the stop, Boyd admitted to Officer King that there was stolen property in the vehicle. She also admitted knowing additional stolen property was at a local motel. Boyd escorted the officers to the motel where they recovered additional stolen property. Boyd was charged in state court with burglary and theft of property.

After hearing Officer King's testimony, the district court determined Boyd's personal knowledge of the stolen property " would indicate that she was involved with it in some way." (Revoc. Tr. at 27.) After hearing arguments from the parties concerning whether the government had proven burglary or just theft, the district court found that Boyd had committed a Grade A violation of her supervised release, which has a recommended revocation range of 15-21 months imprisonment. See United States Sentencing Commission, Guidelines Manual, § 7B1.4(a) (stating range of imprisonment for a Grade A violation with a Category II criminal history is 15-21 months). Based on that violation, the district court sentenced Boyd to 19 months imprisonment.

Boyd appeals, arguing (1) the district court violated her confrontation rights when it permitted Officer Hudson to testify in the place of Officer Sims without first determining that Officer Sims was unavailable, and (2) the district court abused its discretion in determining Boyd committed a Grade A violation when there was no evidence she had committed a burglary and no evidence as to the value of the property, which would be necessary for a felony theft conviction.[1] We reject Boyd's first argument but ...


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