Eleventh Circuit Affirms Sentence Of Man Involved In Carjacking Of Federal Officer
Orlando, FL – Acting United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow announces that the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has affirmed the sentence of Gregory McDonald (19, Orlando).
On August 12, 2015, McDonald, along with three others, committed an armed carjacking of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at a hotel in Orlando. The victim, who was on vacation with his family, had gone down to his SUV in the hotel parking lot when McDonald, co-defendant Dante Askins, and two minors approached him, and forced him into the backseat of his vehicle at gunpoint. They tied the victim’s hands and feet with duct tape and zip ties and McDonald pistol-whipped him. The carjackers held the victim for approximately two hours. When OnStar location services contacted the vehicle, the carjackers fled and the victim escaped. McDonald pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He appealed his sentence.
In affirming McDonald’s sentence, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his argument that the sentencing court had not sufficiently addressed mitigating circumstances and had imposed an unreasonably high sentence. The Eleventh Circuit held that the sentencing court had given “due consideration” to mitigating circumstances, but had also considered that the crime was “horrific” and lacking in “basic humanity,” particularly since McDonald had “plan[ned] ahead of time in an apparent jovial fashion to buy zip ties and duct tape with a plan to kidnap someone at gunpoint for no apparent reason.” The sentencing court also had properly considered McDonald’s extensive and violent criminal history, which included offenses such as sexual battery, carjacking with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, and burglary. The Eleventh Circuit concluded that the 20-year sentence was not unreasonably high.
Assistant United States Attorney Germaine M. Seider handled the appeal. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the underlying case. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tiffany L. Cummins.