An Arkansas doctor sentenced to life in prison for a 2009 bombing that nearly killed the head of the state medical board should be resentenced on some convictions, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.
A jury convicted Randeep Mann, 54, in 2010 of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and other charges. The Feb. 4, 2009, bomb attack took away Dr. Trent Pierce's sense of smell and left him blind in one eye and deaf in one ear.
Mann's attorneys appealed his convictions and sentences, arguing there wasn't enough evidence to convict him.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Thursday that Mann shouldn't have received a sentencing enhancement based on allegations that he ordered the assault of an inmate. The panel said the allegation was never brought up in court and was improperly referenced in a pre-sentencing report.
"The only reference in the record to Mann ordering the assault of a federal inmate is contained in a bench conference that occurred at trial between the district judge and the attorneys," the appeals court opinion said.
The court affirmed the weapon of mass destruction conviction, but ordered that one of Mann's two machine gun convictions be tossed out, finding they amounted to double jeopardy. Mann was convicted of both possessing an unregistered machine gun and possessing a machine gun.
Prosecutors said Mann was responsible for a bomb left outside Pierce's home in West Memphis, Ark., after the board suspended Mann's license following the overdose deaths of some of his patients. Pierce has said he believes the attack was revenge for revoking Mann's license to prescribe narcotics.
"Mann had a long history of investigations by the Board, and Dr. Pierce testified that he had been particularly vocal about his belief that Mann was providing improper care to his patients," the appeals court opinion said.
U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer said he was pleased with the court's decision.
"The United States understands and accepts the reasons for the reversal on the machine gun and sentencing issues and will prepare for the resentencing hearing," Thyer said in a statement. "The affirmation of the jury's verdict on the counts of conviction puts to rest any questions of the defendant's guilt, especially regarding his role in the 2009 bombing of Dr. Trent Pierce."
Online court records didn't list a new sentencing date for Mann as of Thursday.
"We're hopeful, obviously, that he will be able to get some relief from a life sentence," one of Mann's lawyers, Blake Hendrix, said.
Hendrix also said he anticipates asking the appeals court to rehear the case and reconsider the rulings that were unfavorable to Mann.
Federal prisons records show Mann is serving a life sentence at the U.S. Penitentiary-Canaan, about 20 miles east of Scranton, Pa.
Associated Press writer Jill Bleed contributed to this report.
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