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United States v. Bevins

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

February 14, 2017

United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee
Corey Victor Bevins Defendant-Appellant

          Submitted: October 21, 2016

         Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - St. Paul

          Before RILEY, Chief Judge, WOLLMAN and BENTON, Circuit Judges.

          RILEY, Chief Judge.

         Corey Bevins pled guilty to production of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a) and (e), receipt of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2) and (b)(1), and possession of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1151, 2252(a)(4)(A), and 2252(b)(2). The district court[1] sentenced Bevins to 300 months in prison after varying downward from Bevins's advisory Guidelines range of 720 months. On appeal, Bevins contends the district court procedurally erred by improperly calculating his Guidelines range and failing adequately to explain his 300-month sentence at the sentencing hearing. Bevins also asserts his sentence is substantively unreasonable. We do not find merit in any of Bevins's challenges. Therefore, we affirm his sentence. See 28 U.S.C. § 1291 (appellate jurisdiction).

         I. BACKGROUND

         In April 2013, law enforcement agents discovered a host computer they believed contained child pornography files. The computer's IP address was tracked to a residence in northwest Minnesota where Bevins, then age 37, lived with his mother and her husband. In January 2014, officers executed a search warrant on the property and seized four computer towers, an S.D. memory card, a USB drive, a cell phone, and 73 CDs that belonged to Bevins. The memory card contained five videos and seven images of Bevins engaged in sexual acts with known minors, including nine-year-old M.B., a daughter of Bevins's cousin. Bevins was arrested and confessed to having a six-month "relationship" with M.B. "a couple years ago, " engaging in sexual conduct with M.B., and recording M.B. engaged in sexual conduct with him on multiple occasions. Officers later found an additional 60 images and 269 videos of child pornography, which Bevins admitted he knowingly downloaded from the internet.

         The government filed a superseding indictment in April 2015, charging Bevins with nine counts: counts 1 and 2 for production of child pornography, see 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a), (e); count 3 for attempted production of child pornography, see id.; counts 4 through 8 for receipt of child pornography, see id. § 2252(a)(2), (b)(1); and count 9 for possession of child pornography, see id. §§ 1151, 2252(a)(4)(A), (b)(2). Bevins pled guilty to counts 2 (production), 5 (receipt), and 9 (possession), in exchange for the government dismissing the remaining six counts. In the plea agreement, Bevins further admitted he "used and attempted to use the same known victim to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct on two additional occasions." The plea agreement made clear this "[would] be considered relevant conduct for sentencing purposes."

         The presentence investigation report (PSR) assessed Bevins's conduct and the plea agreement under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines (Guidelines or U.S.S.G.), and recommended a prison sentence of 720 months.[2] Bevins objected to several enhancements and adjustments applied in the PSR. Specifically, Bevins disputed the five levels added for patterned behavior, see U.S.S.G. § 2G2.2(b)(5), the five levels added for Bevins being a repeat and dangerous sex offender, see id. § 4B1.5(b)(1), the four levels added for sadistic or masochistic behavior, see id. § 2G2.1(b)(4), and the three levels added as a result of the PSR not grouping the production and attempted production counts, see id. § 3D1.4. Bevins also asked the district court to vary downward given "[i]ndividualize[d] consideration[s], " and because "the child pornography guidelines are essentially unworkable" and "without empirical basis." Bevins suggested a 180-month sentence-the statutory minimum if all sentences ran concurrently-would be "more than sufficient." See 18 U.S.C. §§ 2251(e), 2252(b), 3553(a). While the government agreed a downward variance was appropriate, it advocated for a below-Guidelines sentence of 360 months.

         At the sentencing hearing, the district court reported it had reviewed the PSR and the parties' position papers regarding Bevins's objections and the sentencing factors. After listening to the parties' oral arguments, the district court overruled all objections to the PSR and sentenced Bevins as follows:

Well, taking into account the 3553(a) factors, it's my judgment that a total sentence in this case, and I'll break it down, of 25 years in prison meets the objectives of 3553(a). And that will be a sentence of 15 years on Count 2, 5 years on Count 5, 5 years on Count 9, all to run consecutively for a total of a 25-year [300-month] sentence.

         On appeal, Bevins challenges his Guidelines range, the adequacy of the district court's explanation regarding the § 3553(a) factors, and the substantive reasonableness of his sentence.


         In reviewing Bevins's sentence, we "must first ensure that the district court committed no significant procedural error, such as failing to calculate (or improperly calculating) the Guidelines range, treating the Guidelines as mandatory, failing to consider the § 3553(a) factors, selecting a sentence based on clearly erroneous facts, or failing to adequately explain the chosen sentence." Gall v. United States, 552 U.S. 38, 51 (2007). If the district court's sentencing decision is free of procedural error, we "then ...

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