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State v. Martinson

December 09, 2003

STATE OF MINNESOTA, APPELLANT,
v.
CORY THOMAS MARTINSON, RESPONDENT.



Stearns County District Court File No. K9-01-4776

Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Shumaker, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

The district court did not abuse its discretion by departing downward durationally from the sentencing guidelines when the record shows that respondent suffered from a major mental illness before, during, and after the crimes of which the court found him guilty.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gordon W. Shumaker, Judge

Affirmed

OPINION

Appellant State of Minnesota contends that the district court abused its discretion by departing durationally downward from the sentencing guidelines, arguing that the court failed to make adequate findings of substantial and compelling circumstances to support the departure. Because the record shows that respondent suffered from an extreme mental impairment, the court did not abuse its discretion. We affirm.

FACTS

On November 22, 2000, respondent Cory Thomas Martinson intentionally swerved his car into the path of oncoming traffic and collided with another vehicle. His wife C.A.M., riding as his passenger, was killed instantly.

The state charged Martinson with second-degree murder and criminal vehicular homicide. The district court ordered a rule 20 mental examination. The examiners, a staff psychologist and a staff psychiatrist at the Minnesota Security Hospital, found Martinson competent to stand trial and gave opinions as to his mental status at the time of the collision.

Martinson ultimately waived a jury trial and asserted a mental-illness defense. The court bifurcated the trial, found Martinson guilty of felony second-degree murder and criminal vehicular homicide, and rejected his mental-illness defense. The court acknowledged Martinson's major mental illness but did not believe it was "florid" at the time of the collision.

Despite rejecting Martinson's mental-illness defense, the court found that his "mental condition is a substantial and compelling factor justifying a downward [durational] departure," and sentenced Martinson to an executed term of 75 months instead of the presumptive 150 months.

The record available to the court for sentencing showed that Martinson was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the incident and detailed his past psychiatric history. He began to develop delusional paranoia in the late 1990s, which manifested itself in the belief that his former co-workers at Distinguished Craftsmen, Inc., (DCI) had enlisted the help of "mobsters" to track him down and kill him.

In the summer of 2000, Martinson was exposed to a mixture of bleach and toxic cleaning chemicals while training with his army reserve unit. Initially treated for lung irritation, Martinson was eventually diagnosed with psychotic delusions and was hospitalized. Army records indicate he was convinced the army and the psychiatric hospital personnel were attempting to kill him.

After his release, his paranoia became more extensive. He refused to eat food from New York or New Jersey where the "Italian Mafioso" lived, thought poisonous gas was being sprayed into his apartment, and attempted to patch tiny holes in the wall and ceiling with toothpaste. He told evaluators that he discovered a surveillance camera in his television and that he routinely checked his car for bombs before using it.

By the fall of 2000, Martinson believed that C.A.M. was his only source of protection, that she protected him against assassination, and that she was the only one who could provide food that was not poisoned. However, he eventually "discovered" that C.A.M. worked for the CIA or secret service. This discovery led to the ...


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