A federal appeals court today upheld the 17 1/2-year prison sentence meted out to Damien Bynoe of Roxbury in 2020 for returning to drug dealing and gun possession after getting released on an earlier sentence for drug dealing.
In its ruling, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston concluded that while prosecutors had agreed to consider asking a judge to reducing Bynoe's sentence for agreeing to plead guilty, they didn't commit to doing so and wound up agreeing with the government recommendation of 17 1/2 years, rather than the 10 years proposed by his lawyer.
Bynoe had been arrested in January, 2019 on charges related to the heroin and cocaine found both on him and in his Roxbury apartment and for the loaded gun and additional ammunition found in his apartment.
The court pointed to a discussion at Bynoe's sentencing hearing in declining to amend his sentence, which he is currently serving at a federal prison in West Virginia:
Defense counsel complained that the government was "reneging" on its reduced-sentence commitment. When the court sought to clarify defense counsel's argument, counsel insisted that he wanted the court to ask the prosecutors "why they have reneged on th[e] [A]greement." The court rejoined that the Agreement, by its terms, did not commit the government to take any particular action but, rather, merely bound the government to "consider" taking such action. The court further explained that the prosecutor had made it pellucid that the government had considered the subject. To this, defense counsel replied: "I agree with that, Judge." The court then concluded the discussion by stating, "All right. Then they haven't reneged on their agreement." Defense counsel neither demurred nor objected.
Bynoe's record also includes a 2007 conviction for assault with a firearm and a 2001 conviction for distribution of cocaine in a school zone, for which he served five years in prison.
In addition to being an official armed career criminal, Bynoe has a juvenile conviction for murdering a teen and an 11-year-old in 1991 - when he was a 15-year-old Roxbury gang member. His sentencing to a five-year commitment to a juvenile facility sparked an outrage that led to a new state law allowing juveniles to be tried as adults in murder cases.