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United States v. Milton

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
27 F.3d 203 (1994)


Facts

The United States government (plaintiff) obtained Michael D. Milton's (defendant's) conviction for felonious assault and the use of a firearm during a felony, in connection with the fatal shooting of Melvin Beasley. The trial testimony revolved around a car chase that ensued when Beasley learned that Milton had sold him chalk masquerading as cocaine. Beasley caught up with Milton when both cars stopped for a traffic light. Milton testified that, in order to scare Beasley, he fired two unprovoked .45-caliber shots into Beasley's car. Milton's partner also fired his .45-caliber pistol at Beasley. Amidst the gunfire, a bullet killed Beasley, but the bullet was too badly damaged to identify which gun had fired it. Based on this evidence, the judge determined that Milton should be sentenced as if he had committed second-degree murder. The judge applied the federal sentencing guidelines, U.S.S.G. § 2A1.2, which cross-referenced the definition of second-degree murder contained in 18 U.S.C. § 1111(a), but he did not make a specific fact finding as to the statutory element of malice aforethought. Milton appealed his sentence to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Keith, J.)

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