Jamie Satterfield, Knoxville (Tennessee) News, October 15, 2008
Calling him a dangerous criminal, a federal judge today sentenced Eric Dewayne “E” Boyd to the maximum 18-year prison term for being an accessory to a fatal carjacking.
“Simply put, the defendant shows a lack of regard for the law,” U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan said late this afternoon. “It’s necessary to separate the defendant from the public to prevent future crimes and to protect the public.”
Varlan’s decision is a rare one. Although the U.S. Supreme Court has in the last few years given federal judges wider sentencing latitude, most continue to use a mathematical calculation known as sentencing guidelines.
Varlan deemed Boyd’s crime so heinous and his history so violent that he imposed a sentence that technically fell outside Boyd’s guideline range. It’s a move federal judges employ, particularly in the Eastern District of Tennessee.
Defense attorney Phil Lomonaco argued that Boyd had merely harbored slaying suspect Lemaricus Davidson and had not actively aided and abetted him, a key distinction in terms of punishment.
By Lomonaco’s account, Boyd should have faced only three to four years in prison.
Prosecutor Jennings, however, argued that Boyd, who committed a series of violent robberies in 1994 and while in prison racked up several criminal offenses behind bars—including assault and threatening a guard—rates far more punishment than federal law on the accessory charge allows.
“I’ve never seen a case which more precisely laid out the need for maximum sentencing,” Jennings said. “It’s only 18 years. That’s all you can do for the citizens of Knox County. That’s what you need to do.”
The sentencing hearing got under way this morning with the testimony that Boyd’s criminal history was underrated.
U.S. Probation Officer Myra Melton testified before Varlan in support of prosecutors’ bid to convince Varlan to slap Boyd with the maximum 18 years for his conviction for hiding out Davidson.
Melton said that legal wrangling in state court led to a plea deal for Boyd in an unrelated robbery spree in 1994 that resulted in several robberies, to which Boyd confessed, being dismissed.
She also said a change in federal law benefited Boyd by discounting some of those robbery convictions.
As a result, Melton testified, Boyd earned far fewer criminal history points than she believes he deserves.
His penalty range depends in part on how many criminal history points he has.
Boyd admitted in state court nine robberies in 1994 in which he repeatedly brandished and sometimes fired weapons.
In one instance, he opened fire on the vehicle of a witness to a convenience store robbery because he thought the witness was about to alert police.
In a rare move, federal prosecutors are asking a judge to ignore sentencing guidelines and slap Boyd with the toughest punishment allowed by law.
Stone filed a memorandum Friday putting Boyd on notice that he and Jennings intended to seek an 18-year prison term.
“(Boyd) demonstrated in 1994 that he had no regard for the value of human life when he endangered the lives of so many people during his violent crime spree,” Stone wrote.
“(Boyd) demonstrated this predatory attitude once again in January 2007, when he did his best to accomplish the flight of one of the perpetrators of one of, if not the most, horrendous crimes ever committed in Knoxville.
“For the protection of citizens who have yet to suffer at his hand or those of his associates, like Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom suffered, the Court must impose the maximum sentence allowable under the law,” Stone continued.
Boyd was convicted earlier this year of hiding out Lemaricus Davidson after Christian and Newsom were carjacked, kidnapped, beaten, raped and murdered.
Davidson and three others are charged in Knox County Criminal Court with the torture slayings. Stone argued in his sentencing memorandum that Boyd escaped adequate state court justice in the 1994 robbery spree when the terms of his plea deal wound up tied to that of a co-defendant, who won a big break for both himself and Boyd via a successful attack on police tactics.
That means his criminal history is underrated and his penalty range low-balled in a sealed report on what sentencing guidelines Varlan should consider when deciding Boyd’s fate at a hearing next week, Stone wrote.
“(Boyd) has admitted guilt in no fewer than nine armed robberies in Knoxville with approximately 40 total victims (in 1994),” Stone [prosecutor Tracy Stone] wrote.
“(Boyd) fired a pistol during the commission of three of the robberies—on one occasion into the ceiling, on a second occasion in the direction of a store clerk to keep the clerk from reaching for the telephone, and on a third occasion directly into the automobile of an eyewitness presumably to kill the witness and avoid being identified.”