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United States v. Gooch

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

March 2, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Eric Gooch, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued: January 27, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio at Cleveland. No. 1:13-cr-00282-Solomon Oliver, Jr., Chief District Judge.

         ARGUED:

          Kenneth P. Tableman, KENNETH P. TABLEMAN, P.C., Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellant.

          Daniel R. Ranke, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Kenneth P. Tableman, KENNETH P. TABLEMAN, P.C., Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellant.

          Daniel R. Ranke, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellee.

          Before: GUY, CLAY, and GRIFFIN, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          RALPH B. GUY, JR., Circuit Judge.

         Defendant Eric Gooch appeals his jury convictions and sentences for conspiracy to obstruct commerce by means of robbery, obstructing commerce by means of robbery, armed bank robbery, and carrying a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence. We affirm.

         I.

         Defendant helped plan armed robberies of a discount store and two banks. During the discount store robbery, defendant accompanied two others to the business in a getaway car. Defendant planned to enter, but changed his mind. Defendant witnessed Shawn Caldwell give a firearm to codefendant Larnell Tripp, who robbed the cashier and the business's safe at gunpoint. A month later, defendant, Caldwell, and Greg Williams robbed a bank. Caldwell remained in the car while defendant and Williams brandished firearms and robbed the bank's vault. Three weeks later, defendant accompanied Caldwell and Williams to another bank, but remained outside the bank entrance. Williams robbed the bank at gunpoint, placing the firearm against the bank manager's head and pistol-whipping a security guard. Defendant neither admitted nor denied knowing prior to the robbery that Williams would use a firearm.

         The prosecution charged defendant in a seven-count indictment consisting of two counts of conspiracy to obstruct commerce by means of robbery, a.k.a. "Hobbs Act robbery" (18 U.S.C. §§ 1951(a), 1951(b)(1), and 2); three counts of using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence (18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A) and 2); and two counts of armed bank robbery (18 U.S.C. §§ 2113(a), 2113(d), and 2).[1] Although the district court initially adjudged defendant incompetent to stand trial, he later passed multiple competency evaluations.

         Defendant filed and subsequently withdrew notice of his intent to present evidence that he was not guilty by reason of insanity. Defendant also sought to represent himself. The district court engaged defendant in an extended self-representation colloquy and allowed him to self-represent with appointed counsel as standby. Defendant cross-examined some witnesses but did not present an affirmative defense. He instead moved for a judgment of acquittal based on insufficient evidence, which the district court denied. The jury found defendant guilty, and the district court sentenced him to 664 months' incarceration.

         On appeal, defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence that he aided and abetted the discount store robbery and second bank robbery, alleges the district court erred in allowing him to self-represent and in sentencing him to consecutive sentences on his § ...


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