Appeals court nixes life sentences for ex-sheriff
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal appeals court has overturned the life sentences given to a former Illinois sheriff convicted of trafficking marijuana and a foiled plot to have witnesses against him killed, citing a misunderstanding by the judge in applying federal sentencing guidelines.
The Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in an opinion issued Aug. 28 but made public last week, wrote that U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert followed the court's pre-sentence report's mistaken claim that life terms were the maximum possible punishment for Raymond Martin on two weapons-related convictions. But statutory sentencing guidelines, which federal judges use in helping determine sentences, don't specifically spell out that life behind bars is an option on those counts, only the minimum possible punishment.
Martin, the former Gallatin County sheriff now imprisoned at a maximum-security lockup about 85 miles northeast of Los Angeles, still faces possible life terms during his still-unscheduled resentencing.
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