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United States v. Bohanon

May 16, 2002

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
BERNARD S. BOHANON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 00 CR 747--Charles R. Norgle, Sr., Judge.

Before Ripple, Kanne, and Evans, Circuit Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Evans, Circuit Judge.

Argued April 4, 2002

Fair warning: This is an X-rated decision. The many letters Bernard Bohanon wrote are extremely vile. But because he contends that the sentence he received for sending them (he was convicted of mailing threatening communications, in violation of 18 U.S.C. sec. 876) was too long, we must recount what he wrote to demonstrate why his 48-month sentence to a federal prison will not be disturbed on his appeal.

Bohanon met up with the victims of his letter-writing frenzy, Joe and Mary Walker,*fn1 in 1991 when he contracted to landscape the lawn of their home south of Chicago. During work on the project, the Walkers learned that Bohanon was having financial difficulties, so they hired him to do odd jobs, such as cutting the grass and washing their car.

The Walkers are naturalized citizens of the United States, having emigrated from Jamaica in the 1960's. Joe Walker worked for United Parcel Service and Mary worked for several years at a university. Since 1992, Sharon Connor, their niece who was a nursing student, lived with them.

Thinking Bohanon to be down on his luck, the Walkers befriended him, taking him to church functions and introducing him to their friends. They also shared dinners with him and took him to restaurants. Bohanon visited them frequently when he was living in Gary, Indiana. He spent the winter months in Texas, where he said he was working as a roofer.

In 1996 Bohanon asked the Walkers to store his car in their garage while he was in Texas. They agreed. Then, while Bohanon was in Texas, the Walkers started to receive Bohanon's mail at their home. When Bohanon returned to the Chicago area in the spring of 1997, the Walkers asked him to remove his car and stop having his mail sent to their home. At the same time, Bohanon began to show a romantic interest in Ms. Connor. Ms. Walker disapproved and told Bohanon so. She also told him not to come to the house while her husband was at work. Bohanon returned to Texas. But the Walkers' trouble with him was just beginning.

They and their niece started to receive letters, the tone of which, unfortunately, cannot be conveyed without direct quotations. So we quote a few of the letters (all part of the public record in the district court), misspellings and all:

From a letter addressed to Mr. Walker sent from Dallas, Texas, postmarked November 8, 1998:

I'd cut you and make your fat ass squeel like a big slimey pig. It's going to sound like a car burning rubber off the line. You are a bunch of bastards from hell whom all need to burn at the stake like witches of the old days. Someone ought to gut your niece and slash her throat, burn her nappy hair, cut her titties off, and shoot cement up her dry ass cock until she can't even squirt piss out of that nasty bloody same hole again. She will then have to wear a piss bag on the outside and be an embarrassment to all the human race. She should get her foot caught between the doors and the bus should drag that ugly, nasty, madoosa maggott in the street until the only thing left is a leg and a bag of piss. . . . Nobody can help or save you, it is extermination time.

From a letter addressed to Mr. Walker sent from Dallas, Texas, postmarked January 29, 1999:

If I or any of my family members whom want you dead ever encounter you, you will die or receive the worst beating any man could ever imagine. You fucked with the wrong person. I have people who have seen you coming in and out of UPS and had serious guns ready to blow your head completely off your body before you got into your automobile. I of course know your every move so what do you think I'm going to do for the witchery you were putting in food I was eating at you wicked house. . . . I have some serious lunatics whom want to take your niece while she is on the bus stop and riddle her with bulletts. They've ridden right by her and looked her in the face and she didn't even know who they were. These people have killed before and have no problem with killing again. They are vicious killers.

From a letter addressed to Mr. Walker sent from Dallas, Texas, postmarked February 27, 1999:

Yo mama is the deadest piece of third world dog sewage nigger in the grave of Foney ass Jamaica. Worms crawl all over her rotten carcus and she loves it. . . . This dead bitches skin has peeled off and her hair is so dry it feels like cardboard, I mean this bitch is dead. Your wife is next and when she hits the grave she will look like a big tub of nasty ancient. While doing the autopsy before her funeral, they are going to cut her rectum out and those sick doctors are going to fuck her with a big greasy louiville slugger until the bottom fall out of that rotten dead body. They will be vendictive and fuck her in the ears and eye sockets[,] piss on her dead carcus then take that wet greasy bat and beat her whole body until it sweals and swealters up like a balloon. . . . They will then urine on it, ten or fifteen different people and then prepare that black pile of shit for the wake. A word from you mother: Son I feel like a dried up bitch, I'm wrapped in worms like a dead mummy, it's mommy.

From a letter addressed to "Black Goat Gobblins of the Third World" sent from Dallas, Texas, ...


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