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Byrd v. United States

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 20, 2014

BRUCE ERIC BYRD, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. Criminal No. 1:11-cr-00657.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOSEPHY R. GOODWIN, District Judge.

Now before the court is Petitioner Bruce Eric Byrd's Motion to Vacate Sentence [Docket 165]. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is DENIED.

I. Background

On December 6, 2011, a federal grand jury indicted the petitioner, Bruce Eric Byrd, for violation of several federal statutes with regard to the murder of federal witness Isaiah Callaway. ( See Indictment [Docket 4]). On February 23, 2012, the grand jury returned a superseding indictment. ( See Superseding Indictment [Docket 16]). In the superseding indictment, Byrd was charged with: conspiracy to use interstate communication facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1958(a), (j); conspiracy to murder a witness, resulting in death, under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1512(a)(1)(C), (3)(A), (k); use and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to crimes of violence, causing death by murder, under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c); conspiracy to commit bank fraud and attempted bank fraud under 18 U.S.C. § 1349; and aiding and abetting under 18 U.S.C. § 2. ( See generally id. ).

The petitioner and the government came to an agreement whereby the petitioner agreed to plead guilty to Count Five of the superseding indictment. ( See generally Plea Agreement [Docket 57]). The Plea Agreement states:

1. The Defendant agrees to plead guilty to Count Five of the Superseding Indictment now pending against him in which he is charged with use and discharge of a firearm in relation to crimes of violence that may be prosecuted in a court of the United States, namely:
a. Violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1958, to wit: conspiracy to use and cause another to use a facility in interstate commerce with intent that a murder be committed in violation of the laws of the State of Maryland and the United States, which resulted in the death of Isaiah Cortez Callaway, as charged in Count One of the Superseding Indictment; and
b. Violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(a)(1)(C), to wit: conspiracy to kill a person with intent to prevent the communication by any person to a law enforcement officer or judge of the United States of information relating to the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense, as set forth in Count Three of the Superseding Indictment, resulting in the death of Isaiah Cortez Callaway, [] in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).
The Defendant admits that he is, in fact, guilty of the offense of using and discharging a firearm in relation to crimes of violence, resulting in the death of Isaiah Callaway, as set forth in Count Five, and he will so advise the Court.

( Id. at 1-2). With regard to sentencing, the Plea Agreement provides:

8. (a) The parties stipulate and agree pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) that a sentence of forty years (40 years) imprisonment without parole constitutes an appropriate disposition of this case. This agreement does not affect the Court's discretion to impose any lawful fine or term of supervised release or to set any lawful conditions of probation or supervised release.
(b) In the event that the Court rejects the forty year sentences agreed to by the parties, either party may elect to declare the agreement null and void. Should the Defendant so elect, he will be afforded the opportunity to withdraw his guilty plea pursuant to the provisions of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(5).

( Id. at 7) (emphasis in original). The Plea Agreement was signed by the petitioner on July 17, 2012. ( See id. at 9). Judgment was entered against the petitioner on October 15, 2012. ( See Judgment [Docket 108]). The petitioner was sentenced to forty years imprisonment. ( See Sentencing Tr. [Docket 96], at 9).

On September 19, 2013, the petitioner filed the instant motion to vacate his sentence, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. ( See Mot. to Vacate ("Petition") [Docket 165]). The petitioner alleges that his counsel was ineffective for informing the petitioner that he faced a sentence of 20-25 years for his guilty plea, that the district court exceeded its authority when it sentenced the petitioner to forty years imprisonment, and that the United States did not state a federal claim against him because his crimes did not affect interstate commerce. ( See id. at 5). In his reply, the petitioner also alleges that his counsel was ...


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