Olmsted County District Court File No. 55-CR-12-1849.
David W. Merchant, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Cathryn Young Middlebrook, Assistant State Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant).
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Mark Ostrem, Olmsted County Attorney, James P. Spencer, Assistant County Attorney, Rochester, Minnesota (for respondent).
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Ross, Judge; and Stauber, Judge.
Appellant argues that the district court erred by not granting his motion to withdraw his guilty plea, maintaining that, where the plea was neither accurate, intelligent, nor voluntary because he was intoxicated when he entered his plea, he was not adequately advised of his rights, and the complaining witness recanted. We affirm.
In April 2012, appellant Dean Ryan Kline pleaded guilty to one count of felony domestic assault arising out of an incident in February 2012. The complaint alleged that a fight occurred between appellant and his girlfriend, K.A.L., around 6:50 p.m. A witness in the apartment did not observe the fight because it occurred in a closed bathroom, but could hear yelling and screaming. The initially responding police did not observe any signs of physical injury to K.A.L. Later that evening, K.A.L. called the police again to report that she had been assaulted but because of appellant's presence, she had been afraid to tell the police the truth about what had happened. The police interviewed K.A.L., and this time K.A.L. told police that appellant slapped her, dragged her to the floor, and slammed her head repeatedly on the floor. She also stated that appellant prevented her from using her cell phone to call the police. The police observed abrasions on K.A.L.'s forehead and on the back of her head, as well as a red mark on her back.
Appellant was charged with felony domestic assault and interference with a 911 call. Appellant pleaded guilty to the charge of felony domestic assault; the other charge was dismissed. Appellant signed a form plea petition, which indicated, among other things, his competency and his intent to waive his trial rights, and his understanding of the bargain he was accepting in exchange for his guilty plea. However, neither the court nor the parties' attorneys made reference to the plea petition on the record, and appellant was not questioned about his competency or his rights on the record. The district court sentenced appellant to a stay of imposition and five years' probation.
Between June and July 2012, appellant violated the terms of his probation twice. Following the second violation, appellant was sentenced to 21 months in prison with a stay of execution, and ordered to serve 120 days in jail and complete chemical-dependency treatment. Subsequently, appellant moved to withdraw his guilty plea on the grounds that the complaining witness, K.A.L., had recanted and that he was under the influence of prescription drugs at the time he entered his plea.
Following a hearing, the district court denied appellant's motion from the bench, concluding that the plea appeared "perfectly legitimate." The district court emphasized that victims of domestic assault frequently recant their accusations and that appellant described the assault of K.A.L. with great detail and without prodding. The district court also observed that appellant spoke "clearly" and demonstrated clear thinking when he stated that his motivation to plead guilty was to seek treatment for his drug addiction. This appeal follows.
"A defendant does not have an absolute right to withdraw a valid guilty plea." State v. Theis, 742 N.W.2d 643, 646 (Minn. 2007). But here, appellant argues that he is entitled to withdraw his plea because withdrawal is necessary to avoid a manifest injustice. If a defendant seeks to withdraw his guilty plea after sentencing, the district court must grant the request upon "proof to the satisfaction of the court ...