United States v. Ferguson, 050218 FED7, 16-3979

Docket Nº:16-3979
Opinion Judge:Manion, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Grover Coleman Ferguson, Defendant-Appellant.
Judge Panel:Before Wood, Chief Judge, and Manion and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:May 02, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Grover Coleman Ferguson, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 16-3979

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

May 2, 2018

          Argued December 13, 2017

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. No. 15-cr-00081 - William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge.

          Before Wood, Chief Judge, and Manion and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.

          Manion, Circuit Judge.

         When Grover Ferguson was 17 years old he shot a woman three times during a carjacking, causing significant permanent injury. Ferguson pleaded guilty to vehicular robbery by force and discharging a gun. The sentencing guidelines range was 198 to 217 months' imprisonment (16.5 to 18 years), but the district judge sentenced Ferguson to 600 months in prison (50 years). He appealed, and in United States v. Ferguson, 831 F.3d 850 (7th Cir. 2016), we vacated his sentence and remanded the case to a new judge, who imposed a 35-year sentence. Now Ferguson argues that the district court failed to adequately consider his youth as a mitigating factor and to properly explain the above-guidelines sentence. We affirm the judgment.

         I. Background

         In April 2015, 17-year-old Grover Ferguson stole a handgun from his mother. The next day, while high and drunk, Ferguson checked a gas station for a running car to steal. Not seeing one, he walked for hours. As it became dark, he saw a woman leave her home and approach her car. Ferguson said "hi" to her and the woman later said she did not feel threatened. She went into her house before coming outside again. As she walked to her car, Ferguson hid behind a tree and waited for her to unlock the car door. After the woman got in, Ferguson opened the passenger-side door, pointed a gun at her, and ordered her to give him the keys. The woman paused, initially thinking it was a joke. When he yelled, "Bitch, give me the keys, " she feared for her life.

         The woman placed the keys on the passenger seat, but still Ferguson shot her several times. Ferguson said that he thought the woman moved toward him, so he fired the gun and then walked to the driver's side and demanded the keys again as she crawled on the street. She was shot three times, including once in the face. The victim's niece and the niece's 4-year-old daughter witnessed the shooting from across the street, where they were gathering belongings from their car. When Ferguson saw the victim's niece, he shouted: "Bitch, get back in the car." Ferguson then started the victim's car and as she crawled to the curb to avoid being run over, he drove away.

         The police were nearby investigating another matter when they heard gunfire and quickly responded to the victim's location. They found her on the ground, bleeding from her face. The victim spent the next four days in the hospital; she survived but suffers permanent injuries, including blindness in one eye. She also suffers from irreparable nerve damage in her ear and face, numbness on the left side of her mouth, and daily pain. One of the bullets is still lodged in her face, and she can no longer drive. (Despite all this, the Social Security Administration denied her application for disability benefits.)

         The police caught Ferguson the day after the shooting, but not before he initiated a brief high-speed chase. After his arrest, he admitted taking the car and shooting the victim. Ferguson then pleaded guilty to vehicular robbery by force, 18 U.S.C. § 2119(2), and to discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(iii), pursuant to a nonbinding plea agreement. Sentencing followed. The government recommended that the district court sentence Ferguson to 20 years' imprisonment; the defense recommended 15 years. But the court sentenced Ferguson to 50 years. Ferguson appealed, and we vacated the sentence because the district judge had not explained why a sentence within the guidelines range was so inadequate that a sentence more than 31 years longer than the top end was necessary. Ferguson, 831 F.3d at 855.

         At resentencing...

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