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Man’s sentence for body armor possession upheld

August 29, 2016

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the sentence for a convicted felon who was found wearing body armor after police pulled him over for traffic violations and fleeing officers.

A police officer saw Djuane McPhaul’s car turn from the center lane on a three-lane road and checked on the car’s info. He discovered McPhaul’s license was suspended, so he tried to pull the car over. McPhaul drove for nearly a mile more and turned four times before stopping. The officer then performed a pat-down search and discovered McPhaul was wearing body armor. A loaded gun was found in the center console.

McPhaul moved to suppress the body armor, claiming it was discovered through an unconstitutional search, but that was rejected. His sentence was enhanced for using the body armor in connection with another felony offense (fleeing law enforcement) and for attempting to obstruct justice. While in pretrial custody, McPhaul wrote his cousin and asked her to say she put the gun in the car without his knowledge and to ignore grand jury subpoenas. She did so, but later recanted after she was held in contempt and appointed a lawyer.

The 7th Circuit found the officer had sufficient probable cause to initiate the traffic stop because McPhaul was driving on a suspended license and then to arrest him for resisting law enforcement. Thus there was no Fourth Amendment violation and the officer could pat him down.

The panel affirmed the district judge’s decision to enhance McPhaul’s sentence for using body armor in connection with a felony — fleeing law enforcement — as well as the enhancement for obstruction of justice, giving him a 24-month sentence.  

The case is United States of America v. Djuane McPhaul, 16-1162.


 

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