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US Court of Appeals reaffirms meth dealer's sentence
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US Court of Appeals reaffirms meth dealer's sentence

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A Knoxville man who had appealed his criminal case to the U.S. Court of Appeals to get his sentence mitigated had it instead reaffirmed by the court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reaffirmed Spencer Fitzpatrick’s 223-month sentence after he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine after having been previously convicted of a felony drug offense.

In his appeal, Fitzpatrick, 42, had challenged the United States District Court – Northern District of Iowa’s sentence, arguing the court should have accepted his request for a lower sentence by taking into account his difficult upbringing, according to the appellate judges’ opinion written by Chief Judge Lavenski Smith.

“At sentencing, the district court fully considered each of the relevant … factors and explained why Fitzpatrick’s criminal history outweighed his difficult upbringing,” Smith wrote.

Fitzpatrick and another person were arrested after selling 26.6 grams of meth to a confidential informant in a motel room in Cerro Gordo County on Oct. 12, 2017. After the arrest, the police found another 26.22 grams of meth.

When looking into his criminal background, the probation office found he had 28 criminal history reports, ranging from possession of marijuana with intent to deliver to second degree theft and third degree burglary.

“It’s hard to imagine almost a crime Mr. Fitzpatrick hasn’t committed,” the District Court Chief Judge Leonard Strand said in his explanation of its sentence.

Because of his criminal history, Fitzpatrick had a category VI criminal history and a offense level of 34, which advises a range of 262 months to 327 months of imprisonment, according to the opinion.

At his sentencing, he requested a shorter sentence based on his difficult upbringing in which he was abused as a child by his mother and adoptive father, then placed in state custody in 17 group home facilities and then as a teenager began living with his biological father, who abused alcohol, heroin and cocaine, Judge Smith wrote.

The request was denied because given his age at 42, the district court “refused to attribute his extensive criminal history solely to his harsh rearing experiences,” saying his “recent criminal history outweighed his mistreatment.”

Fitzpatrick had served less than 2 years of a 15-year prison sentence and had immediately resumed dealing meth after his release and had recently fired a gun into a residence with five adults and six children inside, according to the ruling.

Grace Zaplatynsky can be reached at 641-421-0534.

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