Argued: October 31, 2019
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of North Carolina, at Raleigh. Terrence W. Boyle,
Chief District Judge. (5:18-cr-00115-BO-1)
Christina Blondel, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY,
Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellant.
Lee DiLauro, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Raleigh,
North Carolina, for Appellee.
J. Higdon, Jr., United States Attorney, Jennifer P.
May-Parker, Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Raleigh, North Carolina, for
Alan DuBois, Federal Public Defender, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL
PUBLIC DEFENDER, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellee.
MOTZ, DIAZ, and THACKER, Circuit Judges.
THACKER, CIRCUIT JUDGE
William Provance ("Appellee") pled guilty to one
count of assault resulting in bodily injury to a victim under
16 years of age, admitting that he repeatedly injured his
newborn son. Appellee's advisory sentencing range was
calculated at 33 to 41 months of imprisonment, but the
district court varied downward and sentenced him to only five
years of probation and 200 hours of community service. The
Government appeals, arguing Appellee's sentence is
substantively unreasonable because (1) nothing in the record
supported a downward variance; and (2) the district court
relied on an impermissible sentencing factor, namely Mrs.
Provance's purported relative culpability.
must, we review the sentence for procedural reasonableness
before addressing whether it is substantively
reasonable. Upon this review, we conclude the district court
failed to provide an explanation in support of its sentence
sufficient to permit meaningful appellate review.
Accordingly, we vacate the sentence as procedurally
unreasonable and remand for further proceedings.
2015, Appellee and his wife, Jasmine, gave birth to their
first child. Mrs. Provance was an active duty small
arms/artillery mechanic in the United States Army, stationed
at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. After the birth of their son,
Mrs. Provance took six weeks of maternity leave, after which
she returned to work full time. Upon Mrs. Provance's
return to duty, Appellee became the primary caregiver to the
May and August 2015, Appellee repeatedly assaulted his
newborn son, causing life threatening injuries. When the
child was three months old, Appellee and Mrs. Provance took
him to the Womack Army Medical Center after noticing facial
bruising and that the child's right leg was swollen.
Doctors observed numerous bruises on the child and a skeletal
survey revealed five fractures to his ulna, humerus, ribs,
and tibia. The fractures were in different stages of healing.
The doctors concluded the child was a victim of child abuse
and called local authorities.
enforcement and child protective services investigated.
During the investigation, Mrs. Provance admitted she had
noticed Appellee being rough with their son but claimed she
could not recall any incidents that would cause the injuries.
Ultimately, on May 8, 2018, Appellee admitted to causing the