Appeals court upholds accused cop killer’s sentence on federal gun charges

In 2021, a jury found Marco Perez guilty of receiving a firearm under indictment and possession of a stolen firearm.
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 12:15 PM CST
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - federal appeals court has upheld the sentence of accused cop killer Marco Antonio Perez on federal charges.

A jury found Perez guilty in 2021 of receiving a firearm under indictment and possession of a stolen firearm, and a judge sentenced him to a total of 25 years in prison. The Theodore man’s lawyers argued the judge erred by giving him consecutive sentences that resulted in a prison sentence longer than the maximum for the underlying offenses.

But the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law gives judges the discretion to exceed the statutory maximum if the defendant committed the offense while he was on pretrial release, as Perez was. Judge Adalberto Jordan wrote for the three-judge panel, noted that the law states a defendant committing a crime while eon pretrial release “shall” be sentenced in addition to the sentence handed down for the underly offense.

“It is difficult for us to read this language in any other manner; by its own terms, the provision states that a sentence of up to ten years shall be imposed ‘in addition to the sentence prescribed’ for the underlying felony,” Jordan wrote.

The court also rejected a second argument by the defense – that U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Beaverstock erred by failing to allow the jury to consider whether Perez was pretrial release at the time of the shooting in January 2019.

The defense argued that ran afoul of U.S. Supreme Court precedent that requires a jury to make those factual judgments.

Jordan wrote that it was a “harmless error” because in was uncontested that Perez was on pretrial release at the time.

“Mr. Perez did not dispute at any point that he was on pretrial release at the time of the (gun) offense, and his counsel recognized that this fact was undisputed at oral argument,” the order states.

Perez, 24, still faces a capital murder trial for the shooting death of Officer Sean Tuder in the paring lot of the Peach Place Inn Apartments. That trial is scheduled for January.