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Lengthy gun sentence affirmed in 2011 hotel standoff

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A federal prison sentence of more than 33 years was upheld Monday for a career criminal convicted of leading police on a chase, assaulting an officer until he lost consciousness and staging an armed, four-hour standoff at an Indianapolis hotel in August 2011.

Jamel H. Brown was sentenced to 400 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm, which is well in excess of sentencing guidelines. Numerous other counts were continued until after sentencing on the firearm charge.

Brown failed to convince the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that federal criminal trial rules required the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana to rule on any disputed matter in a presentence report before sentencing. Judge Sarah Evans Barker satisfied requirements in consideration of the presentence report, the court ruled in United States of America v. Jamel H. Brown, 12-3413.

“After hearing from the defendant and listening to the evidence presented by the government, the judge made several statements that confirmed her acceptance of the probation officer’s version of the facts. In addressing the ‘horrific’ nature of the offense at issue, the judge stated that Brown had driven a car through a heavily trafficked area ‘really without regard to anybody else,’ and that his assault on the officer was ‘breathtaking,’” Judge Joel M. Flaum wrote for the court.

Barker “acknowledged that Brown had pointed the firearm at the witnesses in the hotel parking lot ‘and by some unbelievable good fortune’ the gun malfunctioned” when Brown pulled the trigger of a Tec-9 semiautomatic handgun, Flaum wrote. “When the gun malfunctioned, (Barker) stated that Brown continued with his attempted escape, shattering a window in the back of the hotel and then ‘terrorizing’ the people inside while looking for a place to hide.”

“What is essential is that the district judge articulated her view of the disputed facts and explained how they impacted her ultimate sentencing determination,” he continued. “We find no error in the district court’s resolution of the disputed facts or its calculation of Brown’s guidelines range for sentencing.”

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