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United States v. Benedict

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

May 1, 2017

United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee
v.
Derek Edward Benedict Defendant-Appellant United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee
v.
Lyle Robert Carpenter Defendant-Appellant

          Submitted: March 29, 2017

         Appeals from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - St. Paul

          Before MURPHY, COLLOTON, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.

          MURPHY, Circuit Judge.

         Appellants Derek Benedict and Lyle Carpenter were convicted by a jury of conspiracy and burglarizing various drug stores in Minnesota and Iowa where they stole pharmaceutical products and cash from safes, registers, and ATMs. They now appeal their convictions and their sentences imposed by the district court.[1] We affirm.

         I.

         A.

         From 2009 to 2012, Derek Benedict and Lyle Carpenter were involved in a series of commercial burglaries, conspiring at various times with six other people: Jason Mussehl, Julia Julien, Tim Kielb, Cher Mayotte, Jennifer Stanley, and Jonathan Quast. Jason Mussehl was involved in burglaries for over 25 years, which were his primary source of income. He knew Benedict from elementary school and met Carpenter in 2009. Mussehl's half brother was Jonathan Quast, and Mussehl dated both Julia Julien and Jennifer Stanley. Additional members of the conspiracy were Tim Kielb and his girlfriend, Cher Mayotte.

         The group's burglaries focused on the theft of money and pharmaceuticals from businesses they investigated as potential targets, where they would first look for motion sensors and locate any alarm systems. They would then return at night to break into a targeted building, often cutting a hole in the roof near an alarm which they proceeded to disarm. At other times they entered a building by knocking down an exterior wall or by prying open the front door and disabling any alarm before a signal could be sent. Once an alarm was disabled, the burglars would leave the location for a half hour or more to ensure that they had not been detected. One of the group was tasked with waiting outside in the vicinity of a targeted business to watch for any law enforcement personnel. After being satisfied that they had not been detected, the burglars would reenter the store, drill open safes and ATMs, and carry away their contents. The burglars working inside a store would communicate by two way radio with their confederate remaining outside. Carpenter specialized in drilling into safes and ATM machines, a task at which he excelled. Benedict served as driver and kept watch outside for any approaching police.

         On October 4, 2009, Carpenter, Mussehl, Tim Kielb and Jennifer Stanley burglarized a Walgreens drug store in Minneapolis and transported its ATM to the house of a friend. After breaking into the machine and obtaining its contents, the burglars disposed of the machine in the Mississippi River. Later that month, Benedict, Carpenter, Mussehl, and Stanley burglarized a Walgreens store in Robbinsdale, Minnesota. Then the same four burglars broke into a Golden Valley Walgreens in November and a South Minneapolis Walgreens in December.

         Carpenter went to prison after he was convicted of a different crime, but Mussehl continued to burglarize Walgreens stores. Benedict wanted to participate in these burglaries, but Mussehl turned him down. When Carpenter was released from prison in 2012, he again joined in burglaries with Benedict and Mussehl. On July 15, 2012, Benedict and Carpenter, together with Mussehl, Kielb, Cher Mayotte, and Julia Julien, burglarized a pharmacy in Bloomington, Minnesota (Bloomington Drug). The burglars took both money and pharmaceuticals. Carpenter, Mussehl, Kielb, and Mayotte next committed a burglary at a gas station in Prior Lake, Minnesota on August 19, 2012. They removed an ATM belonging to South Metro Federal Credit Union and transported it in Mussehl's truck to a friend's garage, where they broke into it. Four days later, Carpenter, Mussehl, Kielb and Quast burglarized a Walgreens store in Circle Pines, Minnesota.

         On September 9, 2012, Benedict, Carpenter, Mussehl and Julien burglarized a Walgreens store in Des Moines, Iowa. Benedict again kept watch outside the store, and Carpenter and Mussehl entered the building. Later that day, Benedict bought an Infiniti using his share of the proceeds from the burglary.

         By early 2013, coconspirator Tim Kielb had been arrested and began to cooperate with law enforcement agents. He used a recording device to capture several discussions with Benedict and Carpenter about burglaries. In February of that year, police found a glove at the site of an Aldi Foods store in Blaine, Minnesota, which had been burglarized by entering through the roof. A DNA swab of the Aldi glove linked to a predominate profile that matched to Lyle Carpenter. On June 9, 2013, Carpenter was arrested while burglarizing a Super America gas station. He was apprehended along with a crowbar, sledgehammer, mask and two way radio.

         B.

         Benedict and Carpenter were jointly charged with conspiracy to commit bank burglary, bank larceny, and interstate transportation of stolen property, conspiracy to steal controlled substances, bank larceny, burglary involving controlled substances, and interstate transportation of stolen property. The ten count indictment also charged Carpenter on additional substantive charges of bank burglary, bank larceny, credit union burglary, and burglary involving controlled substances. Benedict and Carpenter were the only two defendants to proceed to trial; each of the other coconspirators pled guilty. In addition to testimony from numerous law enforcement officials and others, the government called coconspirators Mussehl, Julien, Kielb, Stanley, and Mayotte to testify and describe their own roles in the conspiracy, as well those of Benedict and Carpenter. Coconspirator Jonathan Quast was additionally called to testify about the burglary he committed with Carpenter in Circle Pines, Minnesota.

         Benedict moved to sever, but severance was denied. He also sought to have an expert witness testify to the subject of the untrustworthiness of coconspirator testimony, but his request was untimely and rejected by the district court. Both men were convicted of all charged crimes. At sentencing the district court concluded that both Benedict and Carpenter were career offenders. They were sentenced accordingly: Carpenter to 210 months with $272, 561 ordered in ...


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