FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW
MEXICO (D.C. No. 1:15-CR-00065-MCA-1)
on the briefs[*]:
Baker, Esq., Law Office of Wayne Baker, Albuquerque, New
Mexico, for Defendant-Appellant.
P. Martinez, United States Attorney; Sarah J. Mease,
Assistant United States Attorney, Albuquerque, New Mexico,
BRISCOE, BALDOCK and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.
BRISCOE, Circuit Judge.
Almundo Cruz Singer pleaded guilty to one count of
involuntary manslaughter in Indian country, in violation of
18 U.S.C. §§ 1153 and 1112, and was sentenced to a
term of imprisonment of seventy-five months, to be followed
by a three-year term of supervised release. Singer now
appeals, challenging the procedural and substantive
reasonableness of his sentence. Exercising jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm.
offense of conviction stems from his involvement in a motor
vehicle accident that occurred on December 9, 2014, in Church
Rock, New Mexico. Marvin Ahasteen and his wife were walking
from their Church Rock residence that day to eat lunch at the
Fire Rock Casino, which is located on the north side of New
Mexico State Highway 118. The couple jogged across the lanes
of State Highway 118 and, as they did so, Mrs. Ahasteen
"jogged in front of her husband" and "reached
the [north] side of the highway." ROA, Vol. 2 at 3
(Presentence Investigation Report). At that moment, Mrs.
Ahasteen "heard her husband exclaim 'oh sh[it]'
and turned to see him hit by a white car driving
westbound" on State Highway 118. Id.
to an eyewitness who had left the casino in a vehicle and
entered onto the westbound lane of State Highway 118 shortly
before the accident, the white vehicle passed him on State
Highway 118 at a high rate of speed in a no-passing zone and
swerved in front of him prior to hitting Mr. Ahasteen. The
eyewitness did not observe the white car "slow
down" or "any brake lights" activate on the
white car prior to hitting Mr. Ahasteen. Id. at 4.
According to the eyewitness, "he heard a 'boom'
upon impact and saw 'dust and glass spraying.'"
Id. The eyewitness observed the white car cross the
eastbound lane of State Highway 118 and drive into some
bushes after striking Mr. Ahasteen. The white car, according
to the eyewitness, then returned to the westbound lane of
State Highway 118 and drove away at a high rate of speed.
Ahasteen was decapitated as a result of the accident, his
"left leg was dismembered at the proximal tibia and
fibula, " id. at 6, and his "body parts,
blood and clothing were scattered over a distance of
approximately 274 feet, " id. at 4. Further,
"[a]s a result of the force of impact, all of [Mr.
Ahasteen's] clothes were removed, aside from his
underwear that came down to his knees and his right
sock." Id. at 7. According to Mrs. Ahasteen,
she "saw [her husband's] naked body and then . . .
saw his body with no head hit the pavement. His head came off
from his body." Id. at 3.
after the accident, a McKinley County deputy driving
eastbound . . . in Gallup[, which is located just west of the
casino, ] observed a white car driving westbound . . . at a
very high rate of speed in a posted 25 mph zone."
Id. at 4. "The deputy noted extensive
windshield damage to the car as well as a partially cave[d]
inward roof with a red stain on it." Id.
"The deputy made a U-turn to initiate a traffic
stop." Id. As he did so, he "called
dispatch to advise of" his intentions "and was
informed [that] the [white] vehicle was recently involved in
a hit and run of a pedestrian at the Fire Rock Casino."
deputy activated "his lights and siren while behind the
white car, but the driver [of the white car] refused to pull
over." Id. "The driver [of the white car]
was unable to maintain his lane of travel and proceeded to
drive into oncoming traffic, forcing other vehicles off of
the roadway." Id. "The [white] vehicle led
the deputy and a secondary responding deputy on a chase while
driving 80 mph in a 50 mph zone." Id. During
the chase, the white car "hit multiple curbs . . . and
caused another vehicle to drive into oncoming traffic to
avoid collision." Id. The white car ultimately
stopped in the parking lot of a Family Dollar store in
Gallup. "The deputies were unable to open the
driver's side door of the [white] vehicle due to the
damages and therefore instructed the driver . . . to exit
through the passenger side door." Id.
"Deputies immediately [noted] a strong odor of
intoxicating beverage coming from inside the [white]
vehicle." Id. They also "noted blood on
the [driver's] fingers and facial area, " as well as
"glass all over his head and face." Id.
driver was taken into custody and identified as defendant
Almundo Cruz Singer. Singer "exhibited erratic behavior
that led [the] deputies to believe he may be under the
influence of something more than alcohol." Id.
This behavior included Singer "urinat[ing] on himself
and repeatedly tr[ying] to pull off his shorts, "
bringing "his handcuffs [in front of] his body" and
"kick[ing] the inside of the deputy's car."
Id. Singer also "made comments about fleeing
and laughed about the pursuit stating, 'haha you guys
couldn't get me'" and "'it took you
that long? Haha.'" Id.
was taken to a local hospital to have his blood drawn.
"[A]t the registration desk, " Singer "began
grinning and giggling, " shaking his head "as if he
was cracking his neck, " and "jumping up and
down." Id. at 5. Singer also twice attempted to
"head butt" a male deputy. Id.
toxicology report that resulted from the blood draw revealed
that Singer's blood alcohol level was 0.18g/100mL.
Because of the level of Singer's blood alcohol, the
laboratory did not conduct further testing for the presence
of illicit substances.
enforcement official "reconstructed the accident scene
using videos recorded by several video surveillance systems
in the casino's parking lot." Id. at 6. The
accident reconstruction evidence "showed [Singer']s
car to have been traveling 87 mph in a 55 mph zone"
prior to impact, and "[t]he speed at the moment of
impact was calculated to be 84 mph." Id.
Singer is Native American and the accident occurred in Indian
Country, a criminal complaint was filed against Singer in
federal district court charging him with one count of
involuntary manslaughter, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§§ 1153 and 1112. A federal grand jury subsequently
indicted Singer on the same charge. On April 17, 2015, Singer
pleaded guilty to the single count alleged in the indictment.
probation office prepared a presentence investigation report
(PSR). The PSR, in accordance with U.S.S.G. § 2A1.4,
applied a base offense level of 22. The PSR then applied a
two-level enhancement pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3C1.2,
noting that Singer "recklessly created a substantial
risk of death or serious bodily injury to another person in
the course of fleeing from a law enforcement officer."
ROA, Vol. 2 at 10. After applying reductions for acceptance
of responsibility pursuant to U.S.S.G. §§ 3E1.1(a)
and (b), the PSR arrived at a total offense level of 21. That