LITTLE ROCK — For the second time, a Russellville doctor was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday in a 2009 bombing that critically injured the chairman of the state Medical Board.
Randeep Mann received the sentence at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Little Rock that was ordered by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. The appeals court ruled in December that Mann was entitled to a new sentencing hearing because of errors in his previous sentencing in February 2011.
The 8th Circuit found that a sentencing enhancement based on allegations that Mann ordered the assault of another inmate should not have been included in his sentence because the allegation had not been brought up in court. It also found that two of Mann’s convictions on weapons charges amounted to double jeopardy and said one of the convictions must be vacated.
At Wednesday’s hearing, which Mann did not attend, U.S. District Judge Brian Miller sentenced Mann to life in prison and 30 years on two bombing charges, 10 years on two weapons charges and 5 years on two obstruction charges. The judge said an order that Mann pay $100,000 in restitution would remain in effect.
The only change from Mann’s earlier sentence is that he previously was sentenced to 10 years on three weapons charges. The sentences are to run concurrently.
Miller noted that the re-sentencing was "almost an academic exercise" since Mann remains under a life sentence.
Defense attorney Blake Hendrix told Miller that Mann waived his right to appear at the hearing because he is receiving medical treatment at a health facility for federal prisoners in Springfield, Mo., and did not wish to be transported to Little Rock. Miller commented that the situation was highly unusual.
"I’ve never sentenced somebody who was not there," Miller said.
Mann was convicted in the Feb. 4, 2009, blast that injured Dr. Trent Pierce of West Memphis as he was getting into his car outside his home. Prosecutors said that Mann, a pain medication specialist who ran a private practice in Russellville, was upset over multiple investigations by the state Medical Board and comments by Pierce that he believed Mann was providing improper care to his patients.
Pierce, who lost an eye in the explosion, attended Wednesday’s hearing but declined to testify and did not talk to reporters.
Hendrix told reporters he did not expect Mann to appeal the new sentence, saying Mann would pursue an appeal of his conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court instead. He said Mann continues to maintain he is innocent.
Asked about Mann’s health, Hendrix said he suffers from "a multitude of problems," including back problems.
Christopher Thyer, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, said Wednesday in a statement, "While my office respects the legalities that necessitated the re-sentencing hearing held earlier today, those legal issues do not change the violent, senseless crimes that were committed. Hopefully, the life sentence handed down today will mark the end of this case and bring closure to some very difficult times for Dr. Pierce and his family."
In July, the 8th Circuit upheld the conviction of Mann’s wife, Sangeeta Mann, on obstruction charges. Sangeeta Mann was sentenced to one year in prison and fined $50,000.