The United States government (plaintiff) prosecuted Rami Ikbal Saba (defendant) for kidnapping Donald Dietz, who at the time of Saba's trial still had not been located, and who was presumed dead. The federal district court trial evidence was enough to establish that Saba kidnapped Dietz and presumably failed to release him within 30 days, the statutory minimum for enhanced sentencing; impersonated Dietz and assumed his identity; and after suffering an emotional breakdown, implicitly admitted his crime to fellow prison inmates. The jury convicted Saba, and the judge heard argument on the proper sentence under the federal sentencing guideline for kidnapping, U.S.S.G. § 2A4.1(c)(1). The guideline provided that, if a convicted defendant killed his victim in the course of committing kidnapping or some other enumerated crime, he should be sentenced under the guideline for the first-degree murder statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1111. The government argued that, because the preponderance of the evidence showed that Saba killed Dietz, § 1111 provided the proper standard for sentencing Saba. The judge noted the absence of factual support tying Dietz's presumed death to the kidnapping and rejected the government's argument. The government appealed the judge's ruling to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.