The U.S. Supreme Court will hear an appeal of a Rome man’s sentence for his part in a 2004 robbery of an AmSouth bank branch on Martha Berry Boulevard.
Christopher Michael Dean, 21, was convicted of the Nov. 10, 2004, AmSouth robbery, which netted Dean and his accomplice Ricardo Lopez, 26, a total of $3,642.
Federal district court Judge Harold L. Murphy sentenced Dean to 100 months in prison for his part in the robbery and 120 months for discharging a pistol during the robbery. Lopez was sentenced to 78 months for the robbery and also received 120 months for discharging a pistol. Both men are currently serving their sentences. Dean is also serving a 12-year state sentence for inciting a riot while in custody at the Floyd County Jail.
“In the federal system, there are different sentences for using a gun,” said Calhoun attorney Scott J. Forster, Dean’s attorney. “If you have a gun with you when you commit the crime, the sentence is seven years. If you fire the gun, the sentence is 10 years.”
Forster argued that Dean’s gun went off accidentally and that he should be subject to a lesser sentence, but the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Murphy’s sentence in February, and Forster appealed to the Supreme Court.
About 9,000 cases are appealed to the high court each year, and the court agrees to hear roughly 1 percent of those, said Forster, who has been practicing law in Calhoun since 1989.
Lopez’ case has been joined with Dean’s for the Supreme Court appeal, which will be heard in late February or early March, Forster said.
In the meantime, he will be working with local judges, one of his law professors from the University of Georgia and will attend a Supreme Court litigation session at Georgetown University in Washington to get ready for his day in court.
“The case is Christopher Michael Dean v. United States, docket number 08-5274.
ROME NEWS TRIBUNE