Sixth Circuit Upholds Application of Attempted Murder Cross Reference in Shooting of Kentucky State Trooper.

While pursuing a truck being driven by Tiffany Miller, Kentucky State Trooper Bradley Couch ordered her to stop and get out of her vehicle. As he approached the vehicle and attempted to open the door, however, Miller opened fire, hitting him in the shoulder. Additional pursuing troopers opened fire, hitting Miller several times. Both Miller and Couch survived.

Miller subsequently pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a stolen firearm. Although Miller's presentence report calculated her recommended Guidelines sentencing range as 324 months to 405 months imprisonment by applying the cross-reference to attempted murder, the Court reduced her sentence to 240 months imprisonment in order to match the maximum sentence she could receive based on the firearms offenses to which she pleaded guilty.

Miller appealed her sentence, arguing the District Court should have applied the cross-reference to aggravated assault pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2A2.2 rather than attempted murder pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2A2.1. Specifically, she argued the District Court erred in finding she specifically intended to kill Trooper Crouch because there was evidence she was intoxicated at the time and there were unspent rounds in her revolver -- evidence she claimed supported her argument that she intended to shoot past Trooper Couch to scare him. She also argued her sentence was substantively unreasonable because the District Court failed to recognize she accepted responsibility for her actions by pleading guilty.

The Sixth Circuit disagreed. In a published opinion, it held the sentence imposed by the District Court was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable. The Court specifically held the District Court's finding she possessed a specific intent to kill Trooper Crouch was not clearly erroneous. Additionally, it held that Miller's sentence was not substantively unreasonable because the Guidelines already took her timely guilty plea into account by reducing her offense level for her acceptance of responsibility. 


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