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United States v. Simpson

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
979 F.2d 1282 (1992)


The federal government (plaintiff) prosecuted Sharon Kay Simpson (defendant) for aiding and abetting an armed bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2(a) and 2113(d) (count one). The federal district court trial evidence established that Mark Grotte was Simpson's boyfriend. At Grotte's suggestion, the pair planned a bank robbery. The plan called for Grotte to enter the bank armed with a loaded .357 magnum pistol. After robbing the bank, Grotte got away in a car driven by Simpson. Simpson also helped conceal Grotte's pistol and the cash he took from the bank. The prosecutor threatened Simpson that, unless she agreed to testify against Grotte, he would file an additional charge against Simpson for aiding and abetting the use of a firearm in a crime of violence, in violation of § 2(a) and 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1) (count two). When Simpson refused to testify for the government, the prosecutor carried out his threat. The jury found Simpson guilty on both counts. The judge reduced Simpson's conviction on count one because of her relatively minor involvement in the robbery. However, on count two, the judge imposed § 924(c)(1)'s mandatory consecutive five-year minimum prison sentence. Simpson appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, where she argued that § 2 allows for discretion in sentencing, and that therefore § 924(c)(1)'s mandatory minimum sentence did not apply to her.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Magill, J.)

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