Judge denies killer of FBI agent early release from prison
September 27, 2016 3:43 PM
By Torsten Ove / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Christina Korbe, convicted of killing an FBI agent, won’t be getting out of prison early.
U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry on Tuesday rejected her attempt at an early release, saying that when she pleaded guilty and agreed to her sentence, she also agreed not to challenge it.
Korbe is serving 15 years for shooting FBI Agent Sam Hicks during a drug raid on her Indiana Township house in 2008.
In June, she and her lawyers filed a motion saying she should be released because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that has forced the federal court system nationwide to re-examine sentences for gun offenders.
Korbe pleaded guilty in 2011 to voluntary manslaughter and using a gun during a crime of violence in a deal that spared her a life sentence for murdering a federal agent.
She isn’t due for release until 2022, but she asked Judge McVerry to vacate the second count involving the gun, for which the judge sentenced her to 120 months, because of two Supreme Court decisions.
Korbe challenged the Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984, under which criminals who use guns can receive enhanced sentences for violent crimes. The law includes specific crimes such as arson or burglary but also includes a catch-all phrase that defines a violent crime as an act that “involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing an offense.”
In Johnson v. United States, the Supreme Court said in 2015 that the clause is too vague and violates the Constitution. In another related case, the court said the Johnson decision can be applied to cases in which people are already in prison.
Lawyers across the country have since been re-examining gun cases, including some 800 in the Western District of Pennsylvania.
In Korbe’s case, the government said her plea agreement specifically precluded her from challenging her conviction or sentence.
The FBI Agents Association also urged Judge McVerry to reject Korbe’s request “so that Korbe ... serves every single day of her original sentence.”
Judge McVerry obliged. He said he questioned Korbe extensively before the plea and she knew what was happening.
“Korbe affirmed that she understood her rights and agreed to waive them,” he said. “As reflected in the transcript of the proceedings, the court was satisfied and convinced that Korbe knowingly and voluntarily agreed to plead guilty, to be sentenced as set forth in the written plea agreement, and to waive any collateral attack on that sentence.”
Torsten Ove: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-944-6551.