7th Circuit upholds convictions, orders resentencing

February 24, 2016

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a man’s convictions for armed bank robbery, brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence and possession of a firearm after a felony conviction but vacated his sentence due to the district court’s erroneous application of two different sentencing enhancements.

Christopher Seals was one of three men to rob a bank in Fort Wayne on Feb. 14, 2013. He was a later arrested after he voluntarily met with police in May.

Seals appealed the convictions and 272-month sentence, arguing the district court introduced improper propensity evidence. Northern District of Illinois Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, sitting by designation, wrote the decision in the case. She said there was more than enough evidence to convict Seals even without the testimony from a Fort Wayne officer, which Seals said was improper evidence. Seals had admitted to loading the gun at the robbery, and his DNA was discovered on the ammunition.

Also, Seals was identified as one of the robbers by a man the three who robbed the bank met later, and DNA was found on a ski mask just like the ones the robbers used.

However, Pallmeyer said the court should not have applied the sentencing enhancements it did in the case. She said the district court made no findings that the offenses of conviction which all stemmed from the robbery were connected to the applied enhancements. The district court made no factual findings regarding a car chase that happened on March 20, for which one of the enhancements was applied. She said there was no proof Seals was in or aided the chase.

The case is USA v. Christopher Seals, 15-1372.


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