United States v. Knight

Court Case Details
Court Case Opinion




No. 09-4129


Plaintiff - Appellee,



Defendant - Appellant.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western
District of Virginia, at Charlottesville. Norman K. Moon,
District Judge. (3:07-cr-00031-nkm-5)

Submitted: April 21, 2010

Decided: May 27, 2010

Before MOTZ, SHEDD, and DUNCAN, Circuit Judges.

Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion.

Joseph G. Painter, Jr., JOSEPH GRAHAM PAINTER, JR., P.C.,
Blacksburg, Virginia, for Appellant. Ray Burton Fitzgerald,
Virginia, for Appellee.

Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.


Pursuant to a plea agreement, Lloyd Preston Knight

pled guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute

fifty grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a

detectable amount of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C.

§ 846 (2006). The district court sentenced Knight to 121

months’ imprisonment, a sentence at the low end of his advisory

Guidelines range. Knight’s attorney has filed a brief pursuant

to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967), stating that, in

his view, there are no meritorious grounds for appeal, but

questioning whether the district court erred in finding the

relevant conduct necessary to support its calculation of

Knight’s advisory sentencing range. Though advised of his right

to do so, Knight has not filed a pro se supplemental brief. The

Government declined to file a brief.

Pursuant to Anders, we have thoroughly reviewed the

record, and first conclude that the district court complied with

the mandates of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11 in

accepting Knight’s guilty plea, ensuring that Knight entered his

plea knowingly and voluntarily and that the plea was supported

by an independent factual basis. See United States v. Vonn, 535

U.S. 55, 62 (2002); United States v. Mastrapa, 509 F.3d 652,

659-60 (4th Cir. 2007). Accordingly, we affirm Knight’s



We review Knight’s sentence for reasonableness under

an abuse of discretion standard. Gall v. United States, 552

U.S. 38, 51


This review requires appellate


of both the procedural and substantive

reasonableness of a sentence. Id. In determining procedural

reasonableness, we consider whether the district court properly

calculated the defendant’s advisory Guidelines range, considered

the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) (2006) factors, analyzed any arguments

presented by the parties, and sufficiently explained the

selected sentence. Id. “Regardless of whether the district

court imposes an above, below, or within-Guidelines sentence, it

must place on the record an individualized assessment based on

the particular facts of the case before it.” United States v.

Carter, 564 F.3d 325, 330 (4th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation

marks omitted).

Knight asks this court to review the district court’s

relevant conduct determination. At sentencing, Knight

vigorously contested the probation officer’s finding that he was

accountable for between 50 and 150 grams of “ice”

methamphetamine, as opposed to a mixture or substance containing

a detectable amount of methamphetamine. However, the Government

presented testimony detailing Knight’s repeated admissions to

buying and selling “ice.” Accordingly, we find the Government

amply satisfied its burden of proving the relevant conduct by a


preponderance of the evidence. See United States v. Grubbs, 585

F.3d 793, 799 (4th Cir. 2009) (“[A] sentencing court may

consider uncharged . . . conduct in determining a sentence, as

long as that conduct is proven by a preponderance of the


Our review of Knight’s presentence report and the

sentencing transcript leads us to conclude the district court

properly calculated Knight’s advisory Guidelines range, and

committed no plain procedural error in sentencing Knight. See

United States v. Lynn, 592 F.3d 572, 576-78, 580 (4th Cir.

2010). Moreover, we will afford Knight’s within-Guidelines

sentence a presumption of substantive reasonableness. See

United States v. Wright, 594 F.3d 259, 267 (4th Cir. 2010); see

also Rita v. United States, 551 U.S. 338, 347 (2007) (upholding

rebuttable presumption of reasonableness for within-Guidelines

sentence). For these reasons, we affirm Knight’s sentence.

In accordance with Anders, we have reviewed the entire

record for any meritorious issues and have found none.

Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s judgment. This

court requires that counsel inform his client, in writing, of

his right to petition the Supreme Court of the United States for

further review. If the client requests that a petition be

filed, but counsel believes that such a petition would be

frivolous, then counsel may move in this court for leave to


withdraw from representation. Counsel’s motion must state that

a copy thereof was served on the client. We dispense with oral

argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately

presented in the materials before the court and argument would

not aid the decisional process.



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