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Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

New Sentence Needed for Bomb-Making Doctor

(CN) - An Arkansas doctor may have been improperly sentenced after he was convicted of trying to blow up a medical board officer, the 8th Circuit ruled.

Prosecutors said Dr. Randeep Mann had sought vengeance after the Arkansas medical board disciplined him.

The board had revoked Mann's license to prescribe narcotics after receiving complaints that 10 of his patients overdosed and died on prescription medication.

Shortly afterward, a spare tire rigged with a grenade exploded in the West Memphis, Ark., driveway of board chair Dr. Trent Pierce.

Pierce survived the bombing, but it left him disfigured and partially blinded.

Investigators found 98 buried grenades near Mann's house, and eventually seized 18 firearms and a grenade launcher at Mann's residence.

Although no direct evidence connected Mann to the crime, a jury found him guilty in 2010 of using a weapon of mass destruction and for firearms offenses.

A federal judge in Little Rock sentenced Mann to life imprisonment on the weapon-of-mass-destruction charge and applied lesser sentences for the firearms offenses.

On appeal, Mann said he was prejudiced by the joinder of the two charges, but the 8th Circuit disagreed.

"We fail to see how Mann could be prejudiced by admitting evidence of his possession of the 40mm grenades beyond the prejudice he would have suffered from the clearly admissible evidence that Mann had purchased MK3A2 grenades, which were the same type as the grenade used in the bombing," Judge Bobby Shepherd wrote for a three-judge panel.

"Additionally, the evidence offered to prove Mann possessed the 40mm grenades was distinct from the evidence offered to support the bombing and arson charges and was easily segregated," Shepherd added.

Sentencing deserves reconsideration, however, because the trial court committed certain enhancement errors.

The District Court applied enhancements for possession of grenades containing an altered serial number, although grenades do not have serial numbers and are identified by lot numbers.

"The sentencing enhancement applies only to firearms which once possessed a serial number which has been removed; it does not apply to firearms that were never equipped with a serial number," the 60-page decision states.

Furthermore, the lower court applied an enhancement for stolen firearms, but Shepherd said there was "no evidence" indicating that the 98 grenades had been stolen.

"The government conceded prior to sentencing that it had not proven the grenades were stolen; nevertheless, the district court applied the enhancement," Shepherd wrote.

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