Stoner v. United States

Decision Date02 November 2011
Docket NumberNo. 1:09-CV-84 CAS,1:09-CV-84 CAS
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Missouri

This matter is before the Court on movant Elton Lloyd Stoner's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The government has responded. Movant did not file a reply memorandum and the time to do so has long passed, so movant's right to reply is waived. For the following reasons, the Court concludes that the grounds asserted by movant are without merit and should be dismissed without an evidentiary hearing.


On October 25, 2007, a Grand Jury in the Eastern District of Missouri, Southeastern Division, returned a one-count indictment against movant Elton Lloyd Stoner. United States v. Stoner, Case No. 1:07-CR-170 CAS. The Indictment charged that on or about May 27, 2007, movant possessed a firearm that affected interstate commerce after he had been convicted of felony offenses, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). The Indictment also notified movant that he was eligible for sentencing under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) as an Armed Career Criminal. Movant was arrested and made his initial appearance on this charge on November 13, 2007.

On January 2, 2008, movant filed a Motion to Suppress Statements. An evidentiary hearing was held on the motion to suppress on January 11, 2008, before United States Magistrate JudgeMary Ann L. Medler. On January 22, 2008, Magistrate Judge Medler issued a Report and Recommendation which recommended that movant's Motion to Suppress Statements be denied. Movant did not file any objections to the Report and Recommendation. On February 21, 2008, the undersigned entered an Order adopting the recommendations of Judge Medler.

On March 10, 2008, movant appeared with his attorney and entered a plea of guilty to the Indictment. At the time of the plea, movant had entered into a written Plea Agreement, which was filed with the Court. Pursuant to the Plea Agreement, movant agreed to plead guilty to being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm as charged in the Indictment. The parties recommended a Base Offense Level no higher than 33 and a Total Offense Level no higher than 30, after a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility.

Movant agreed that by entering a plea of guilty, he waived his right to a jury trial. Movant agreed that his attorney had explained those rights to him and the consequences of his waiver of those rights. Furthermore, movant stated in the Plea Agreement that he was:

[F]ully satisfied with the representation from defense counsel. The defendant has reviewed the government's evidence and discussed the government's case and all possible defenses and defense witnesses with defense counsel. Defense counsel has completely and satisfactorily explored all areas which the defendant has requested relative to the government's case and any defenses.

Plea Agreement at 11.

The terms of the Plea Agreement provided that the parties agreed to a partial waiver of appellate rights. Movant reserved his right to appeal sentencing issues, including the length of the sentence, the determination of the Total Offense Level, the Criminal History Category and Armed Career Criminal status. Movant waived his right to appeal all non-jurisdictional issues. Movant also agreed to waive his right to file a motion 28 U.S.C. § 2255, except for claims of prosecutorial misconduct or ineffective assistance of counsel at time of sentencing. The government concedes thatmovant may file the instant motion under § 2255 and that the waiver provision in the Plea Agreement does not apply to the two specific claims raised by movant's § 2255 motion.

On March 10, 2008, movant appeared and entered his plea of guilty to the Indictment. The following exchange took place regarding movant's competency to proceed:

THE COURT: Very well. I need to ask you a few questions to assure that your plea is voluntary and knowing; that is, you are doing this of your own free will and you understand what you are doing. First of all, how old are you?
THE DEFENDANT: Twenty-three.
THE COURT: And how far have you gone in school?
THE DEFENDANT: College, two years.
THE COURT: Are you presently under the influence of any drugs, alcohol, or medication?
THE DEFENDANT: No, Your Honor - medication, Your Honor.
THE COURT: And what is that?
THE DEFENDANT: Just stuff for my mental health.
THE COURT: Is that causing you any problem with participating in these proceedings or understanding what is going on?
THE DEFENDANT: No, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Very well. Are you suffering from any - you'll let us know if you do have a problem in that regard?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Are you suffering from any mental disease or defect?
THE DEFENDANT: I'm classified schizoaffective.
THE COURT: Mr. Tilsen.
MR. TILSEN: He does have a mental illness. He's medicated for it. And I talked to Mr. Stoner, and I believe he's competent to proceed.
THE COURT: You have any question about that, Mr. Willis?
MR. WILLIS: No, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Very well. If you have any problem with understanding what is going on or otherwise problems, you'll make us aware of that, Mr. Stoner?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, Your Honor.

(Plea Tr., at 2-4).

The Court accepted movant's guilty plea and found him guilty as charged. A sentencing hearing was set for June 9, 2008.

Following the plea, a Presentence Investigation Report ("PSR") was prepared by United States Probation Officer Paul H. Boyd. The PSR showed movant's Total Offense Level at 31, one level higher than agreed to by the parties. Movant's Criminal History Category was set at VI, and his sentencing range was calculated to be 188 to 235 months. The PSR also discussed movant's previous mental health issues, as follows:

86. The defendant suffers from Schizo-Affective Disorder, Manic Depression, and Auditory Hallucinations, and he is presently prescribed Prozac and Thorazine to treat these conditions (verification pending). He further has been diagnosed as having Antisocial Personality Disorder. The defendant has a history of Seizure Disorder fueled by his various psychotropic medications, and is presently prescribed Cogentin to control the seizures. The defendant reported that he has a history of Depression and Anxiety Disorder, but stated that these issues have waned as his more recent issues have taken hold. As a youth, and throughout his adolescence, the defendant was treated for his various mental health disorders at several inpatient mental health facilities, including Fergus Falls, Minnesota Regional Treatment Center, Timberland Adolescent Treatment Center, Brainerd, Minnesota, Lakeland Mental Health Center, Glenwood, Minnesota, Bar None Residential Treatment, Anoka, Minnesota, and St. Mary's Hospital Psychiatry and Psychology Treatment Center, Rochester, Minnesota.
87. Records received from Bar-None Residential Treatment Center, Anoa, Minnesota, reflect the defendant was placed in the facility on April 2, 1997 after assaulting his father by hitting him in the face with a dinner place (vf). Stoner's referral diagnosis was Oppositional Defiant Disorder. After evaluation, he was diagnosed with Conduct Disorder, Childhood - Onset Type and Mixed Substance Abuse. Stoner remained in the facility until February 25, 1999. Additional records from the facility reflect that Stoner experienced significant problems with aggressive behavior and assaultive conduct.
88. Stoner was admitted to Elmore Academy, Elmore, Minnesota, on March 20, 2001, following his adjudication for Theft and Assault (vf). Records from the facility reflect Stoner engaged in aggressive behavior, threatening bodily injury to staff and peers. During his stay at Elmore, Stoner was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder, Polysubstance Abuse, Conduct Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Medications prescribed during this time included Trazodone, Seraquel and Zoloft,
89. Stoner has attempted suicide on several occasions, most recently in 2006 by hanging. Stoner reported that his father intervened in his last suicided [sic] attempt, and he was subsequently placed in the mental health treatment facility at Twin Rivers Hospital in Kennett, Missouri for ten days. Stoner's other suicide attempts consisted of pill overdoses and cutting himself.
90. Stoner reported that he suffered from sexual abuse at age seven at the hands of a step-brother, and from age nine to twelve at the hands of other residents of the Bar None Residential Treatment Facility in Anoka, Minnesota.
91. The defendant reported a serious, long term alcohol and substance abuse problem. In addition to smoking at least one-eighth ounce of marijuana per day, the defendant stated that he has abused nearly every illegal substance available. The defendant's substance abuse, coupled with his serious mental health difficulties, have contributed significantly to the defendant's legal troubles over the years. The defendant reported that his alcohol abuse had become much more problematic in recent years. The defendant participated in long term substance abuse treatment as a juvenile at Elmore Academy in Elmore, Minnesota (vf). Further, Stoner was admitted to West Central Regional Juvenile Center, Moorhead, Minnesota, on June 7, 2000, and released on October 3, 2000, after completing inpatient substance abuse treatment (vf). The defendant stated that he would like to participate in substance abuse treatment while in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons.

PSR at 11-12.

The sentencing hearing was held on June 9, 2008. Prior to the hearing, movant objected to the PSR's conclusion that his Total Offense Level was 31. The government conceded this objection. Movant's Total Offense Level was amended to 30, and his Guideline range became 180 to 188 months. (Sent. Tr. at 2, 3). The Court sentenced movant to a term of imprisonment of 180...

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