United States v. Hopskin, 072617 FED6, 16-2529

Docket Nº:16-2529
Opinion Judge:THAPAR, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. KEITH VONTA HOPSKIN, Defendant-Appellant.
Judge Panel:BEFORE: SUTTON, McKEAGUE, and THAPAR, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:July 26, 2017
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

KEITH VONTA HOPSKIN, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 16-2529

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

July 26, 2017

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION

ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN

BEFORE: SUTTON, McKEAGUE, and THAPAR, Circuit Judges.

THAPAR, Circuit Judge.

Keith Hopskin argues that committing second-degree murder in Michigan is not a "crime of violence." He therefore contends that the district court should not have sentenced him as a career offender. We disagree and affirm.

I.

No one disputes that Hopskin committed the three crimes relevant here. In 1999, while conducting a routine check on an Amtrak train in Albuquerque, DEA officers noticed Hopskin sitting under a bag that smelled strongly of fruit. They suspected the odor was masking the smell of drugs. And they were right. Hopskin pled guilty to possessing more than five hundred grams of cocaine with the intent to distribute it, and a federal district court in New Mexico sentenced him to thirty months in prison. Then, in 2000, detectives from the Grand Rapids Police Department solved the murder of Yancy Gray, who went missing two years before. As it turned out, Hopskin and two others had beaten Gray to death and buried him. Hopskin pled guilty to second-degree murder, and a Michigan state court gave him between twelve and thirty-seven years in prison. He was paroled in 2012, and in 2016, he once again pled guilty to possessing over five hundred grams of cocaine that he intended to distribute. A federal district court in Michigan sentenced him to twelve years in prison, the term he is now serving.

The sentencing guidelines recommend higher sentences for defendants who qualify as career offenders. A defendant qualifies if he was "at least eighteen years old at the time [he] committed the instant offense" (which Hopskin was), if the offense is "a felony that is either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense" (which this one is), and if he "has at least two prior felony convictions of either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense." U.S.S.G...

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