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United States v. Morris

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 2, 2015

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Steven Leroy Morris, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted: February 13, 2015.

Page 911

Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - St. Joseph.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: James Curt Bohling, Bruce A. Rhoades, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Kansas City, MO.

Steven Leroy Morris, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Greenville, IL.

For Steven Leroy Morris, Defendant - Appellant: F. A. White Jr., Kansas City, MO.

Before RILEY, Chief Judge, LOKEN and SMITH, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 912

LOKEN, Circuit Judge.

Following a bench trial, Steven Morris was convicted of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams of methamphetamine and conspiracy to launder the proceeds of the criminal drug distribution. The presentence investigation report recommended a four-level increase because Morris was an organizer or leader of the criminal drug activity and a two-level increase because a pattern of criminal conduct was his livelihood. See U.S.S.G. § § 3B1.1(a), 2D1.1(b)(15)(E). The district court[1] overruled Morris's objections to these enhancements and imposed a sentence of 360 months in prison, the bottom of his advisory guidelines range. Morris appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to convict and the sentencing enhancements. We affirm.

I. Sufficiency of the Evidence

A.

The indictment charged thirty defendants including Morris with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine between January 2009 and March 2012. At trial, Michelle Hendrix, who pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge, testified that she met Morris in 2009 through Caleb Velvick, another conspirator who was providing Hendrix with methamphetamine for personal use and resale. Hendrix made about six small purchases from Morris during 2009, established a direct relationship with him, and purchased two to four ounces approximately every other day from June to October 2010. After serving a prison term, Hendrix resumed obtaining methamphetamine from Morris between November 2011 and March 2012, when he " fronted" her a half-pound to a pound of methamphetamine per week. Hendrix sold the methamphetamine, delivered the sale proceeds to Morris, and kept notebooks recording her transactions. She identified Morris's house and car from a government photo and recalled that there was a school across the street from his house.

Adrienne Maar testified that she met Morris in December 2010 through her boyfriend, Caleb Velvick's brother Chris, who purchased methamphetamine from Morris at his home for personal use and resale. Initially, Maar waited in Chris's car, but after meeting Morris, she accompanied Chris into Morris's house. Chris purchased approximately one ounce of methamphetamine twice a week from Morris until January 2011, when he began to purchase two to three ounces. On a ...


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