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United States v. Williams

January 27, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
BRAD O. WILLIAMS, SEVILLEWILLIAMS, CLINTONWILLIAMS, AND RORYTUCKER, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeals from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 06 CR 20032-Michael P. McCuskey, Chief Judge.

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

ARGUED SEPTEMBER 5, 2008

Before FLAUM, ROVNER, and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges.

The four appellants in this case, Brad Williams, Seville Williams, Clinton Williams, and Rory Tucker, were charged with committing a series of armed robberies over a four month period. Four other individuals who were involved in the robberies pled guilty and testified against the defendants at trial.

All of the defendants were convicted and appeal their convictions.

Rory Tucker raises several challenges to his conviction and sentence. We reject his first argument regarding improper joinder of defendants because the indictment properly charged Tucker and the other defendants with conspiracy to rob banks, financial institutions, and a retail store. And because he failed to renew his motion at the close of the evidence, we also reject his argument that the district court improperly denied his motion to sever. Next, contrary to Tucker's assertion, we find that the government presented sufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict even though the government proved its case, in part, through the testimony of several co-conspirators. Finally, we reject his arguments that his sentence of 221 months' imprisonment was erroneous and unreasonable.

Because of the particularly violent nature of the robberies he committed, which justifies the district court's sentence of life imprisonment, we reject Brad Williams's challenge to his sentence. However, we vacate Clinton Williams's sentence because the record does not demonstrate that the district court considered his mental disability as a mitigating factor.

We dismiss the appeal of Seville Williams. As pointed out in his counsel's Anders brief, there are no non-frivolous issues for appeal.

I. BACKGROUND

According to the government's evidence at trial, Brad Williams committed a series of armed robberies from January 3, 2006 through April 24, 2006. He was accompanied and assisted by various people in these robberies, some of whom participated in more robberies than others. Tucker, for example, was involved only in the final robbery, though he also helped plan another robbery that was not executed.

Because Tucker is the only defendant challenging the sufficiency of the evidence against him, the details of every robbery are not necessary for this appeal. But for back-ground, we provide a brief summary of the robberies and their participants.

On January 3, 2006, Brad Williams, Seville Williams, and two other masked men robbed a Walgreens store, striking the attending pharmacist on the head and leaving with money in a dark green bag. The robbery occurred around 2:30 a.m. and at 2:45 a.m., Brad Williams arrived at Nathein Franklin's apartment with Seville Williams and two other men. The four men were carrying a dark green bag and two revolvers. They changed in Franklin's bathroom and left the apartment.

On January 11, 2006, at approximately 5:40 p.m., Brad Williams and Seville Williams forced their way inside the Commonwealth Credit Union and held a gun to an employee's head while she unlocked the vault. They emptied the contents of the vault and fled in Clinton Williams's car.

On March 28, 2006, Brad Williams, Marion Jefferson, and Tyron Thomas robbed the Heights Finance store in Kankakee. Jefferson and Thomas, both wearing masks, entered the store with guns while Brad stayed in the car. Jefferson loaded a round into his gun and struck a male employee in the side of his head, causing the gun to discharge, when the employee told him there was no safe. Thomas grabbed another employee and took her to the front of the store, where she gave the men all of the money the store had-$235.

On April 7, 2006, Jefferson and Thomas entered the First Community Bank and Trust in Peotone, Illinois, wearing masks and waving guns while Brad Williams distracted the teller at the drive-through window. While Thomas brought three tellers into a back room, Jefferson pointed his gun at the assistant cashier and demanded that she put all the money from the safe into a bag he gave her. After Thomas made a phone call, Clinton Williams picked Thomas and Jefferson up outside the bank.*fn1

In April 2006, Tucker conspired with Jefferson, Thomas, Collins, Brad Williams, Clinton Williams, Riley, and others to rob a bank in Chicago Heights but the robbery was aborted before anything happened because someone froze. A few days later, the men tried again in Rantoul, this time successfully and without the person who thwarted the prior attempt. Collins, Jefferson, Thomas, and Brad Williams entered the credit union first while Riley and Clinton Williams remained in cars outside. All of the men wore light blue ski masks. Tucker waited outside the credit union for most of the robbery and went in for less than 45 seconds at the very end. (The surveil-lance recording shows five robbers inside the bank at that time.) Tucker had a gun, as did Collins and Jefferson. As Tucker entered the building, he called out, "Let's go."

Police arrived on the scene and the robbers fled. Collins and Brad Williams were arrested after police pursuit. Clinton Williams was arrested in the driver's seat of one getaway car. Tucker jumped into the back seat of the other getaway car (which Riley was driving) but Riley was stopped and arrested. Tucker hid in the back seat for an hour until a crime scene investigator noticed him. Jefferson fled and hid for days until he was arrested. Thomas ran to a nearby carwash and jumped into a car, told the people in the car he had a gun, and directed them to drive out of the area. He was arrested the next day.

Only four of the eight defendants went to trial. Jefferson, Thomas, Collins, and Riley pled guilty and testified for the government. Tucker, Brad Williams, Clinton Williams, and Seville Williams were tried and found guilty. Tucker testified on his own behalf.

The district court sentenced Tucker to 221 months' imprisonment, Brad Williams to life imprisonment, Clinton Williams to 552 months' imprisonment, and Seville Williams to 546 months' imprisonment. All four defendants appealed.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Rory Tucker

1. No Improper ...


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