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Date: 12-26-2023

Case Style:

United States of America v. Jontez McLeod

Case Number: 22-4189

Judge: Before NIEMEYER and WYNN, Circuit Judges, and KEENAN, Senior Circuit Judge


Plaintiff's Attorney: Dena J. King

Defendant's Attorney: Sandra Barrett
Elizabeth M. Greenough

Description: PER CURIAM:
Jontez Xavier McLeod appeals his convictions and 141-month sentence imposed
after his guilty plea to carjacking and aiding and abetting, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§§ 2119, 2; and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to, and in furtherance of, a
crime of violence and aiding and abetting, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A)(ii), 2.
On appeal, McLeod argues that (1) there was insufficient evidence to prove that he knew
his codefendant planned to brandish a firearm during the carjacking; and (2) the district
court abused its discretion in denying his motion for a downward variance. We affirm.
Because McLeod pled guilty, he has waived his challenge to the sufficiency of the
evidence. See United States v. Gosselin World Wide Moving, N.V., 411 F.3d 502, 515 (4th
Cir. 2005) (“A voluntary and intelligent plea of guilty is an admission of all the elements
of a formal criminal charge. A defendant who pleads guilty therefore admits all of the
factual allegations made in the indictment, and waives all non-jurisdictional defects,
including the right to contest the factual merits of the charges.” (internal citations and
quotation marks omitted)). Accordingly, we affirm McLeod’s convictions.
We therefore turn to McLeod’s arguments regarding his sentence. We “‘review all
sentences—whether inside, just outside, or significantly outside the Guidelines range—
under a deferential abuse-of-discretion standard.’” United States v. Torres-Reyes, 952 F.3d
147, 151 (4th Cir. 2020) (quoting Gall v. United States, 552 U.S. 38, 41 (2007) (alteration
omitted)). “First, we ensure that the district court committed no significant procedural
error, such as failing to calculate (or improperly calculating) the Guidelines range, treating
the Guidelines as mandatory, failing to consider the [18 U.S.C.] § 3553(a) factors, selecting
a sentence based on clearly erroneous facts, or failing to adequately explain the chosen
sentence.” United States v. Fowler, 948 F.3d 663, 668 (4th Cir. 2020) (internal quotation
marks omitted)).
“If the sentence is procedurally sound, [we] then consider the substantive
reasonableness of the sentence, taking into account the totality of the circumstances.”
United States v. Provance, 944 F.3d 213, 218 (4th Cir. 2019) (internal quotation marks
omitted). A sentence must be “sufficient, but not greater than necessary,” to accomplish
the § 3553(a) sentencing goals. 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). “That said, district courts have
extremely broad discretion when determining the weight to be given each of the § 3553(a)
factors.” United States v. Nance, 957 F.3d 204, 215 (4th Cir. 2020) (internal quotation
marks omitted). Moreover, a sentence within a properly calculated Guidelines range is
presumptively substantively reasonable. United States v. Gillespie, 27 F.4th 934, 945 (4th
Cir. 2022). That “presumption can only be rebutted by showing that the sentence is
unreasonable when measured against the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors.” United States v.
Gutierrez, 963 F.3d 320, 344 (4th Cir. 2020).
We discern no procedural sentencing error by the district court. See Provance, 944
F.3d at 218. The district court conducted an individualized assessment of the facts and
arguments presented, considered the § 3553(a) factors, and applied them to McLeod’s case.
The court considered McLeod’s arguments for a lower sentence and adequately explained
the sentence imposed. Moreover, the court did not err in denying McLeod’s request for a
downward variance. In moving for a variance, defense counsel asked the district court to
consider McLeod’s medical history, the potential sentencing disparity between McLeod
and his codefendant, and McLeod’s secondary role in the offense. In sentencing McLeod,
the district court stated that it was not inclined to vary below the Guidelines range and
explained its view of each of McLeod’s mitigating arguments in support of a variance.
This explanation showed that the court considered McLeod’s nonfrivolous arguments for
a variance but ultimately disagreed with McLeod that these factors warranted a sentence
below his Guidelines range.*
Finally, McLeod fails to rebut the presumption that his 141-
month sentence at the bottom of the applicable Guidelines range is substantively
reasonable. See Louthian, 756 F.3d at 306.

* To the extent that McLeod challenges the district court’s failure to separately
address his claim of overstated criminal history in denying his variance request, we discern

Outcome: Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s judgment. We dispense with oral
argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials before this court and argument would not aid the decisional process.


Plaintiff's Experts:

Defendant's Experts:

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