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7th Circuit affirms sentences for bank robbing couple

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the convictions and sentences of a boyfriend and girlfriend on bank robbery convictions, finding the boyfriend waived his appeal of his sentence and the jury instructions were correct in the girlfriend’s trial.

Jorge Quintero and Claudia Martinez were indicted on charges of bank robbery by force, violence or intimidation, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, and knowing possession of a firearm and ammunition as an illegal alien. Quintero was also charged with unlawful entering and Martinez was charged with remaining in the U.S.

Martinez drove Quintero to the bank and parked her van in an adjacent parking lot. She claimed to not know he was going to rob the bank, but after Martinez jumped in the van after robbing the bank, he had a gun, mask, and money and she led police on a chase before crashing. Next to her in the front seat was a ski mask, wig in a purse, and a gun.

Quintero pleaded guilty to all charges and was supposed to receive a three-point deduction in his sentence for accepting responsibility, but the probation office revised his pre-sentence investigation report and removed the reduction after he perjured himself at Martinez’s trial. It also included a two-point enhancement for obstruction of justice.

In United States of America v. Jorge Quintero, a/k/a Samuel Munoz and Claudia Andrade Martinez, Nos. 09-2715, 09-2788, Quintero argued the government breached the terms of the plea agreement. The 7th Circuit judges found Quintero waived his right to appeal. Even if he hadn’t agreed to a waiver of appeal in his guilty plea, it was Quintero who first broke the terms of the agreement when he perjured himself at Martinez’s trial and obstructed justice.

“Quintero made his own bed by choosing to commit perjury, no matter his alleged intentions, and now he must lie in it,” wrote Judge Michael Kanne.

Martinez challenged her convictions and sentence, claiming the District Court erred by providing instruction No. 20 on the issue of accomplice liability to the jury over her objection. She argued instruction No. 19 conflicted with No. 20, misstated the law, misled the jury, and prejudiced her.

Instruction No. 19 was a typical aiding and abetting jury instruction; No. 20 said if a person knowingly assists in the escape phase of a bank robbery, she is guilty of aiding and abetting bank robbery, even if she is unaware of the bank robbery until she begins assisting in the escape phase of the bank robbery. Driving a getaway car is participating in the escape phase of a bank robbery.

She believed the instructions conflicted because No. 19 exculpates a person that provides assistance but has no knowledge of the crime. But the judges agreed with the government that the jury instructions were correct statements of the law.

“Because Martinez knowingly and willfully participated in the escape phase of the bank robbery by driving the car in an obvious ‘getaway’ fashion, and thereby becoming, if she was not already, a principal in the crime, the district court did not err by giving instruction twenty to the jury,” wrote Judge Kanne.

The judges also upheld her sentence that was enhanced for discharge of a firearm, even though she wasn’t convicted on that count.

“Taking all of the evidence of events leading up to the robbery, the robbery itself, the escape phase, and the materials later found in the van—including a second loaded handgun—the district court was reasonable in concluding that Quintero’s firing of the gun could be attributed to Martinez as an aider and abettor,” wrote the judge.
 

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