State v. Plummer, 122920 MESC, Ken-19-364

Docket NºKen-19-364
Opinion JudgeCONNORS, J.
Party NameSTATE OF MAINE v. JAHNEIRO PLUMMER
AttorneyRory A. McNamara, Esq., Drake Law, LLC, Berwick, for appellant Jahneiro Plummer Aaron M. Frey, Attorney General, and Katie Sibley, Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee State of Maine
Judge PanelPanel: MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HUMPHREY, HORTON, and CONNORS, JJ.
Case DateDecember 29, 2020
CourtSupreme Judicial Court of Maine

2020 ME 143

STATE OF MAINE

v.

JAHNEIRO PLUMMER

No. Ken-19-364

Supreme Court of Maine

December 29, 2020

Submitted On Briefs: September 29, 2020

Rory A. McNamara, Esq., Drake Law, LLC, Berwick, for appellant Jahneiro Plummer

Aaron M. Frey, Attorney General, and Katie Sibley, Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee State of Maine

Panel: MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HUMPHREY, HORTON, and CONNORS, JJ.

CONNORS, J.

[¶1] This appeal addresses the treatment of the defendant's motive for his crime when imposing his sentence. Jahneiro Plummer appeals his sentence imposed by the trial court (Kennebec County, Stanfill, J.) after he was convicted by a jury of two counts of aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs (Class A), 17-A M.R.S. § 1105-A(1)(D), (H) (2020), and one count of criminal forfeiture, 15 M.R.S. § 5826 (2020). He asserts that the trial court improperly double counted the commercial purpose of his offenses when it conducted its sentencing analysis pursuant to 17-A M.R.S. § 1252-C (2018).[1] Because we conclude that the trial court properly considered different aspects of the commercial nature of the offense at each step of its analysis, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

[¶2] In November 2018, Plummer was indicted on two counts of aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs (Class A), 17-A M.R.S. § 1105-A(1)(D), (H), and one count of criminal forfeiture, 15 M.R.S. § 5826. He pleaded not guilty, and three months later, the trial court held a two-day jury trial. The jury found Plummer guilty on all counts.

[¶3] In the subsequent sentencing proceeding, the court first considered the appropriate basic sentence pursuant to 17-A M.R.S. § 1252-C(1): The first step of that analysis is to consider the basic sentence that should apply having in mind the particular characteristics of the crime and the manner in which it was committed.

In this case, Mr. Plummer has been convicted of aggravated trafficking, a Class A offense, both in heroin and in cocaine base. In both cases, the quantity of the drugs far exceeds the amount that the [L]egislature has set as the amount from which one would presume trafficking.

And indeed, the quantity of drugs involved in this case is very large. These are not victimless crimes. On a daily basis as a judge, I see the effects of the amount of cocaine base and the amount of heroin in this community and it is devastating this community. Children are being left without parents, parents without children, and families are being ripped apart. It is not a victimless crime.

There is a large sum of money involved as well. And it-as- by the facts of the case and the manner of which it was committed, it appeared to be a purely commercial operation with planning involved as Mr. Plummer had traveled here from New York.

Having all of that in mind, the Court does find, together with the goals as articulated in our statute, that the basic sentence is significant. The goals include setting a basic sentence that would have deterrent effect, restraining a person in the interest of public safety.

The court set the basic sentence at eighteen years.

[¶4] Moving to the second step of the statutorily required sentencing analysis, the court analyzed aggravating and mitigating factors. 17-A M.R.S. § 1252-C(2). With respect to aggravating factors, the court stated: The aggravating factors in this case include, as already indicated, that it was a purely profit or selfish mode would-in other words, there's no evidence of addiction in this case. The fact that he came from out of the community for the sole purpose of selling drugs and in ... a commercial motive. Mr. Plummer's trial testimony lacked credibility in his testimony. And those are all the kinds of factors that the Court can consider as aggravating factors.

[¶5] During the sentencing hearing, the court then described the mitigating factors, including Plummer's lack of criminal history, his family support, his volunteer work while in pretrial detention, the lack of firearms or violence associated with the trafficking, and his acceptance of the verdict. See 17-A M.R.S. § 1252-C(2). Because the mitigating factors "outweigh[ed] the aggravating factors," the court reduced Plummer's sentence from eighteen to fifteen years.

[¶6] In the final step of the sentencing analysis, the court sentenced Plummer to fifteen years of imprisonment with all but six years suspended and four years of probation. See 17-A M.R.S. § 1252-C(3).

[¶7] Plummer timely but unsuccessfully appealed the judgment of conviction. See State v. Plummer, 2020 ME 106, 238 A.3d 241. He also filed an application to seek sentence review, see M.R. App. P. 20(a)(1), which the Sentence Review Panel granted, State v. Plummer, No. SRP-19-376 (Me. Sent. Rev. Panel Oct. 11, 2019), and which we now address separately. 15 M.R.S. § 2151 (2020); M.R. App. P. 20.

II. DISCUSSION

[¶8] Pursuant to 17-A M.R.S. § 1252-C, which codified our decision in State v. Hewey, 622 A.2d 1151, 1154-55 (Me. 1993), a court imposing a sentence follows a three-step process. In the first step, the court determines the "basic term of imprisonment by considering the particular nature and seriousness of the offense as...

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