Submitted: September 28, 2018
from United States District Court for the Southern District
of Iowa - Davenport
SMITH, Chief Judge, MELLOY and STRAS, Circuit Judges.
Mathis challenges the 80-month sentence he received after
pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm,
in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2),
and 924(e). He specifically challenges the district
court's finding that he used a firearm to
facilitate the crime of harboring a runaway. Based on this
finding, the district court imposed a four-level sentencing
enhancement pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1(b)(6)(B). The
court also varied upward. On appeal, Mathis argues the
district court abused its discretion in imposing the
four-level sentencing enhancement. He claims the district
court erred in finding by a preponderance of the evidence
that he had harbored a runaway and had used or possessed a
firearm to facilitate that crime. Mathis also argues the
district court abused its discretion in varying upward.
Background Mathis picked up a 15-year-old boy, K.G.,
from school and drove him to Mathis's house in Atallisa,
Iowa. Mathis had met K.G. on a website called
"Meetme.com," and Mathis had invited K.G. to come
stay with him. An investigation of Mathis's online
activity revealed frequent, sexually explicit communication
with young males in which Mathis promised to provide them
with a place to live, a car, and a job if they moved.
February 15, 2013, K.G.'s mother reported him missing.
Investigators tracked K.G. to Mathis's home by
"pinging" his cell phone, and on February 25,
police questioned Mathis's roommate, Wanda Gott, outside
their residence. Gott claimed no minors were inside the
house. In fact, K.G. had been inside the house with Mathis
during the questioning. Gott later admitted knowing that K.G.
was inside and that he was a runaway.
two weeks after the police visit to his home, Mathis took
K.G. to K.G.'s grandmother's house in Cedar Rapids,
Iowa. Once home, K.G. claimed Mathis had molested him and
threatened him with a gun. Specifically, K.G. claimed Mathis
had pointed a gun at him; he later retracted that statement
but consistently maintained there had been guns inside the
house, including a rifle near the front
entrance. K.G. also described other threatening
behaviors by Mathis and Gott to investigators. He claimed
Gott made large dogs lie in front of his bedroom door to
prevent him from leaving the house. Gott admitted that she
did so. K.G. also claimed Mathis bragged about beating people
up in prison.
further told investigators that Gott discovered he was
actually only 15 years old and that Mathis also found out he
was underage from Gott, who had viewed him on a missing
persons website. K.G. claimed Mathis made him take the
battery out of his cell phone when he learned his actual age.
K.G. also described an incident in which Mathis told him to
duck down as they drove across the Illinois state line to
visit a friend. According to K.G., Mathis feared he would get
in trouble for taking K.G. out of state.
March 8, officers obtained a warrant to search Mathis's
house. The search uncovered a rifle near the front entrance,
just as K.G. had described. Mathis admitted K.G. stayed at
his house, but he claimed he believed K.G. was 19.
State of Iowa charged Mathis with harboring a runaway and
being a felon in possession of a firearm. Those charges were
later dismissed. The federal government charged Mathis with
being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18
U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2), and 924(e). In
January 2014, Mathis pleaded guilty to the possession charge
and was sentenced to 180 months' imprisonment. We
affirmed the sentence. United States v. Mathis, 786
F.3d 1068 (8th Cir. 2015).
Supreme Court reversed this court's judgment, Mathis
v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), and we remanded
the case to the district court for resentencing. United
States v. Mathis, 832 F.3d 876 (8th Cir. 2016). The
presentence investigation report (PSR) prepared for
Mathis's 2017 resentencing indicated a base offense level
of 20, with a four-level enhancement pursuant to U.S.S.G.
§ 2K2.1(b)(6)(B) for using or possessing a firearm in
connection with another felony offense, i.e., in
connection with harboring a runaway. Accounting for
acceptance-of-responsibility reductions, the PSR thus
calculated a total offense level of 21. Based on a criminal
history category of IV and an offense level of 21, the PSR
recommended an imprisonment range of 57-71 months.
resentencing, the district court found by a preponderance of
the evidence that Mathis had committed the crime of harboring
a runaway and had used or possessed a firearm to facilitate
that crime. The district court thus adopted the PSR's
recommended four-level enhancement. The court ...