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Conviction for Felonious Firearm Possession Affirmed, But Sentence Vacated

By FindLaw Staff on July 16, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

US v. Lee, 08-4427, concerned a challenge to a defendant's conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm and sentence as a career offender to 120 months' imprisonment. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court for the most part but vacated and remanded the sentence for resentencing.

In affirming in part, the court held that defendant is not entitled to a new trial on a rifle charge as all of the Pelullo factors indicate that there was no prejudicial spillover from the pistol charge to the rifle charge.  The court also affirmed the district court's decision to admit evidence that defendant was wearing a bullet-proof vest at time of the arrest as it was not arbitrary or irrational. The court held that defendant's statements regarding his prior possession of firearms were admissible for a proper purpose under Rule 404(b) as evidence of defendant's motive for possessing a weapon, the statements are relevant under Rule 402, and the district court's finding under Rule 403 that the danger of unfair prejudicial effect did not substantially outweigh the probative value of the statements was not arbitrary and irrational. The court also held that a new trial is not warranted because it is highly probable that  prosecutorial misconduct did not contribute to the judgment.  However, the court vacated and remanded  defendant's sentence for resentencing as his earlier conviction for reckless conduct, standing alone, does not qualify as a crime of violence. 

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