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Akridge v. United States

April 14, 2008

STEPHEN D. AKRIDGE, PETITIONER,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Curtis L. Collier Chief United States District Judge

Chief Judge Curtis L. Collier

MEMORANDUM

Pro se petitioner Stephen D. Akridge ("Petitioner") filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Court File No. 1) and an accompanying memorandum (Court File No. 2). Pursuant to the Court's Order (Court File No. 3), the United States filed a response (Court File No. 7). Petitioner filed a reply (Court File No. 15). The Court finds the materials thus submitted, together with the record of the underlying criminal case, conclusively show Petitioner is not entitled to relief on the claim asserted in his petition. Accordingly, the Court will decide this matter without an evidentiary hearing, see United States v. Todaro, 982 F.2d 1025, 1028 (6th Cir. 1993), and will DENY Petitioner's motion for the reasons stated herein.

I. RELEVANT FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On direct appeal of Petitioner's criminal case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit described the facts of this case, which are excerpted here:

In the early morning of May 2, 2000, Chattanooga police officers received an anonymous telephone tip reporting that the residents of 824 Arlington Avenue were selling drugs. In response to the complaint, officers conducted a "knock and talk" at the residence, which was shared by Akridge and his roommates Kevin Ellison and Tiffany Stewart. During a search of the apartment, officers found marijuana, cocaine, and three loaded semi-automatic pistols.

Following the search an officer suggested that the three residents decide who would accept the blame for the contraband, and allegedly indicated that he would see that the other two residents would not be charged. As a result, Stewart was taken to jail and Akridge and Ellison were left at the apartment. Stewart apparently was later released on her own recognizance.

On June 19, 2000 ATF officials interviewed Akridge, Ellison, and Stewart regarding the May 2000 search of their residence. All three admitted to selling crack cocaine and marijuana, and Akridge allegedly further admitted to firearms possession and selling drugs from the Arlington Avenue residence, although he denies making such a confession.

Akridge, Stewart, and Ellison subsequently were arrested on June 20, 2000 for drug trafficking and firearms possession. . . . [Petitioner filed a motion to suppress, which the district court granted. He then filed a motion to enlarge the scope of the suppression, which the district court denied, and which is the subject of the appeal. The case proceeded to trial.].

The jury returned guilty verdicts on Counts 1, 4, 5, and 6, which respectively charged Akridge with conspiracy to distribute in excess of fifty grams of cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, possession with the intent to distribute cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), possession of a 9mm semi-automatic pistol in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes for the period October 1999 to May 2, 2000 in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A), and being a felon in possession of a 9mm semi-automatic pistol on or about December 31, 1999 in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1).

A pre-sentence report was prepared, to which Akridge objected in part because the report included information predicated upon statements made by Ellison and Stewart.

The district court ultimately sentenced Akridge to 360 months on Counts 1 and 4 to run concurrently with 120 months on Count 6. The district court further sentenced Akridge to 300 months on Count 5 to be served consecutively, resulting in a total of 660 months imprisonment.

United States v. Akridge, 346 F.3d 618, 621-22 (6th Cir. 2003) (affirming denial of motion to enlarge scope of suppression).

Petitioner's sentence was far steeper than his co-defendants, as the dissenting appellate judge noted:

Under their plea agreements, Stewart received a 12-month sentence while Ellison (who had a more extensive criminal history and was convicted of several additional charges) received a 115-month sentence. In contrast, Akridge received a 660-month sentence. Given the fact that Akridge had roughly the same role in the alleged offenses as Ellison and Stewart, and received a sentence fifty times more severe than Stewart (and five times more severe than Ellison, who had roughly the same criminal history as Akridge), it seems beyond ...


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