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Evans v. State

Supreme Court of Minnesota

April 3, 2019

Harry Jerome Evans, Appellant,
v.
State of Minnesota, Respondent.

         Ramsey County Office of Appellate Courts

          Harry Jerome Evans, Bayport, Minnesota, pro se.

          Keith Ellison, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and John J. Choi, Ramsey County Attorney, Adam E. Petras, Assistant County Attorney, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for respondent.

         SYLLABUS

         Because Minn. Stat. § 609.185 (2018) does not require a sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of release, appellant's sentence under Minn. Stat. § 609.106, subd. 2(1) (2018), which requires life in prison without the possibility of release, was authorized by law, and the postconviction court did not abuse its discretion when it denied appellant's motion to correct his sentence.

         Affirmed.

         Considered and decided by the court without oral argument.

          OPINION

          ANDERSON, JUSTICE.

         Appellant Harry Jerome Evans moves for correction of his sentence, see Minn. R. Crim. P. 27.03, subd. 9, from "life imprisonment without possibility of release" under Minn. Stat. § 609.106, subd. 2(1) (2018), to "imprisonment for life" under the first-degree murder statute, Minn. Stat. § 609.185(a)(4) (2018).[1] The postconviction court denied the motion, and we affirm.

         FACTS

         The facts underlying Evans's conviction are found in State v. Evans (Evans I), 756 N.W.2d 854');">756 N.W.2d 854, 859-62 (Minn. 2008). Evans was found guilty by a Ramsey County jury and convicted of first-degree murder of a peace officer engaged in official duties. See id. at 859; see also Minn. Stat. § 609.185(a)(4). Evans was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release under Minn. Stat. § 609.106, subd. 2(1). We affirmed his conviction on direct appeal. Evans I, 756 N.W.2d at 881. Evans sought postconviction relief on two previous occasions, which the postconviction court denied, and we affirmed. See Evans v. State (Evans III), 868 N.W.2d 227 (Minn. 2015); Evans v. State (Evans II), 788 N.W.2d 38 (Minn. 2010). In 2015, Evans also moved to correct his sentence under Minn. R. Crim. P. 27.03, subd. 9, alleging that the district court exceeded its sentencing authority by requiring payment of restitution in the amount of $7, 500. The postconviction court denied this motion, and we affirmed. See Evans v. State (Evans IV), 880 N.W.2d 357 (Minn. 2016).

         In April 2018, Evans brought a second motion under Rule 27.03, subdivision 9, to correct his sentence, which is the subject of the current appeal. He asks that he be resentenced to life with the possibility of release, rather than life without the possibility of release. He advances three arguments as to why his sentence under Minn. Stat. § 609.106, subd. 2(1), which requires "life imprisonment without possibility of release," was not authorized by law and, therefore, must be corrected.

         First, Evans argues that "imprisonment for life" as set forth in Minn. Stat. § 609.185(a)(4) means "imprisonment for life" with the possibility of release. Evans argues that this meaning contradicts the plain language of the statute under which he was sentenced, Minn. Stat. § 609.106, subd. 2(1), which provides for "life imprisonment without possibility of release." Second, Evans argues that section 609.106, subdivision 2(1), exposes him to a greater punishment than that authorized by section 609.185(a)(4), in violation of Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), and Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004). Third, Evans argues that the postconviction court erred by using elements of the offense to increase his sentence from "imprisonment for life" to "life without ...


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