Kansas City, Mo. A Kansas City man who got a seven-year prison sentence last year from a judge who considered it too long but felt she had no choice under federal guidelines could now be free in a matter of months.
Frank Robinson, 39, who had felony convictions for stealing in the 1980s, found himself facing an extended stay behind bars after police making a routine traffic stop in 2002 found a gun under the back seat of his car.
As a felon, Robinson was not allowed to have a gun. Police subsequently found two more weapons at his home, guns that his attorney said he kept to protect his family.
When Robinson came before U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey for sentencing last year, she thought the range of between 84 and 105 months specified under the guidelines was too harsh and recessed the hearing.
But after studying the guidelines for six months, the judge announced last August that she had little choice but to give Robinson the minimum seven years.
Not long after that, the U.S. Supreme Court decreed that the sentencing guidelines be considered advisory rather than mandatory. Subsequently, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent Robinson's case back to Laughrey for re-sentencing, and on Thursday she gave him an 18-month term.
Robinson, she said, was not a career criminal, much less a threat to the safety of the community, and she noted that prosecutors had not charged him immediately after the 2002 traffic stop.
"Credit has to be given for the change in this man's conduct, for his family and his employment history," Laughrey said.
With the time he has already served and time off for good behavior in prison, Robinson could be released in about three months.
"This has been a very long journey, and Mr. Robinson could not be more grateful for the time and thought that Judge Laughrey put into her decision," said his attorney, assistant public defender Laine Cardarella.
Prosecutors said they would review the sentence before deciding whether to appeal.