175 F.3d 350 (5th Cir. 1999), 98-10240, United States v. Goynes

Docket Nº:98-10240.
Citation:175 F.3d 350
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Fred Randall GOYNES, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:May 10, 1999
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 350

175 F.3d 350 (5th Cir. 1999)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Fred Randall GOYNES, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 98-10240.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

May 10, 1999

Page 351

Christy Lee Drake, Asst. U.S. Atty., Amarillo, TX, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Karl Anthony Rupp, Dallas, TX, for Defendant-Apellant.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Before KING, Chief Judge, and REYNALDO G. GARZA and JOLLY, Circuit Judges.

REYNALDO G. GARZA, Circuit Judge:

I. Factual and Procedural Background

On January 8, 1997, Fred Randall Goynes ("Goynes") was charged in a two-count indictment with mailing threatening communications to Steve McKinzie ("McKinzie") ("Count I") and to Rebecca King ("King") ("Count II"), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 876. On October 10, 1997, Goynes pled guilty, pursuant to a written plea agreement, to Count I of the indictment. In exchange for his plea, the government agreed to dismiss Count II.

The factual resume in support of Goynes' plea provides in pertinent part:

Fred Randall Goynes is an inmate in Clements Unit located north of Amarillo, Texas. Goynes wrote several letters threatening various people in the legal community in Amarillo, Texas. He placed the letters in the mail stream at the prison. The letter sent December 20, 1995[,] contained explicit threats to kill Mr McKinzie. Goynes wrote other threatening letters following his Indictment under this cause number, including another threatening letter to Mr. McKinzie, as well as a letter to the Honorable Mary Lou Robinson. 1

Page 352

Goynes was involved in Satanic worship. He told investigators that he would do anything Satan required of him and that he loved the sight of blood. The Presentence Investigation Report ("PSR") stated that Goynes' December 1995 letter to McKinzie indicated that if McKinzie did not accept Satan as his father, Goynes would have his brothers and sisters kill McKinzie. Furthermore, the PSR stated that the letter sent to King indicated that Goynes planned to kill King upon his release from prison by setting her afire and shooting her. Goynes signed his letter to King in blood and stated in the letter that the blood was his own.

The PSR explained that Goynes mailed a second letter to McKinzie on March 12, 1997, indicating that he was going to kill McKinzie, McKinzie's family, King and many others. The letter to Judge Robinson stated that Goynes intended to kill her as a sacrifice to Satan.

The PSR employed the November 1, 1995 version of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and determined that Goynes' base offense level was 12. The PSR also included a six-level enhancement, pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2A6.1(b)(1), based on the finding that Goynes' offense involved conduct evidencing an intent to carry out his threats. The PSR also contained a two level enhancement pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3C1.1 for obstruction of justice. Thus, the PSR stated that the total offense level attributable to Goynes was 20. Furthermore, the PSR characterized Goynes as a career offender, resulting in a criminal history category of VI, subjecting him to a guidelines range of 70 to 87 months imprisonment.

Goynes' counsel filed several objections to the PSR, including an objection to the six-level increase under § 2A6.1(b)(1) on the ground that Goynes did not evidence an intent to carry out the threats in his letter to McKinzie, other than writing and mailing the letter. The government maintained that the six-level increase was appropriate because Goynes continued to write threats of violence to the same victims following his indictment and because the content of the letters evidenced an intent to carry out these threats.

At the sentencing hearing, Goynes' counsel renewed his objection to the enhancement. He argued that Goynes had taken no action in furtherance of his threats and that the content of the letters, consisting of "rather ridiculous claims that he was going to marshal the...

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