Washington County District Court File No. K8011813
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and
1. The jury instruction for the crime of assault in the first degree of a correctional employee should emphasize that if the state cannot prove actual intent, it must prove that the defendant should reasonably have known that death or great bodily harm could result from the defendant's actions.
2. The presumptive sentence of 10 years for assault in the first degree of a correctional employee should not be exceeded absent significant extenuating circumstances.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Minge, Judge
On appeal from a conviction of first-degree assault of a correctional employee, appellant argues that the trial court committed plain error by instructing the jury that the state did not need to prove that he intended to inflict great bodily harm. Appellant also argues that the court erred by imposing a 20-year sentence when the presumptive sentence was 10 years. We affirm in part and modify in part.
A jury convicted appellant Charles Lindsey of assaulting correctional officers Jeff Warren and Grace Morton. The evidence at trial established that on April 30, 2000, Warren and Morton were assigned to Complex 1, one of several living units within the prison where appellant was serving a life sentence. At about 8:00 a.m., inmates began moving from the complex into the main prison yard for a recreation period. Before entering and leaving the yard, inmates are required to pass through a metal detector. When appellant passed through the metal detector, the alarm sounded. Warren stopped appellant and told him to go back through the metal detector. Appellant told Warren the alarm went off because appellant was wearing a metal knee brace. Warren asked appellant to remove the brace and then pass through the detector. After arguing with Warren, appellant removed his brace and passed through the detector without activating the alarm.
When appellant returned from the hour-long recreation period, he set off the metal detector alarm again. When Warren instructed appellant to remove the brace and go through the metal detector, appellant said "what?" in a loud voice and then hit Warren in the head. Warren was unconscious and next recalled lying on the ground and seeing appellant's foot coming down toward his face. Warren recalled trying to block the foot with his arm and then losing consciousness again.
Officer Morton was in the supply room when she heard a commotion near the metal detector. Morton ran around the corner and saw appellant punching and kicking Warren. Morton yelled at appellant to stop and ordered him to return to his cell. Appellant turned and hit Morton on the side of her head. He then continued hitting and kicking Warren in the head and torso. When Morton attempted to intervene a second time, appellant punched her in the chest.
The officer working in the security bubble observed the incident and called for assistance. According to that officer, appellant would walk away from Warren but return and continue the assault whenever Warren started to move.*fn1 As other correctional officers converged on the scene, appellant stopped his assault on Warren and waited to be taken into custody. Appellant eventually returned to his cell and was then escorted to a different complex.
Warren and Morton were taken to Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater and examined by Dr. Gene Stringer. Morton's injuries included a cut and swelling to her ear and bruises on her chest. She was discharged with instructions to rest and take pain medication as needed. Morton missed about seven weeks of work.
According to Dr. Stringer, Warren was oriented and recollected being assaulted. He had a black eye, bruises on his face, arms and hands, and swelling to his neck and throat. A CT scan showed a possible fracture to the cricoid cartilage in Warren's trachea. Because Warren's airway was not compromised, Stringer did not admit Warren to the hospital. Stringer gave Warren medication to control the swelling and recommended he see an otolaryngologist the next day.
Otolaryngologist Bruce Dennison examined Warren the next day and determined that Warren had in fact suffered a fracture of the cricoid cartilage. Because the lining of Warren's windpipe had not been compromised, Dennison was able to conservatively treat the injury. Dennison told Warren to avoid excessive physical activity and monitored his ...