This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
DeMarco NMN Shaw,
Filed March 19, 2002
Ramsey County District Court
File No. 9003123
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Darrell C. Hill, Assistant County Attorney, 50 West Kellogg Blvd., Suite 315, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Charles F. Clippert, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue S.E., Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Foley, Judge.
Appellant DeMarco Shaw appeals the postconviction court’s order denying his request to withdraw his 1991 guilty plea. Appellant contends that the district court abused its discretion (1) by finding an adequate factual basis supported appellant’s plea even though he claimed he blacked out and never admitted to having the required intent to kill; and (2) by finding appellant’s plea voluntary and intelligent when he believed he was pleading guilty to unintentional murder rather than intentional murder. We affirm.
A criminal defendant does not have an “absolute right” to withdraw a guilty plea. Alanis v. State, 583 N.W.2d 573, 577 (Minn. 1998). But a criminal defendant may withdraw a guilty plea, even after sentencing, upon a timely motion if the defendant shows that withdrawal is necessary to correct a manifest injustice. Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 1 (2000); State v. Kaiser, 469 N.W.2d 316, 319 (Minn. 1991). A manifest injustice occurs if the plea is not accurate, voluntary, and intelligent. Alanis, 583 N.W.2d at 577.
Reviewing courts will not disturb the postconviction court’s decision on a petition for relief absent an abuse of discretion. State v. Bliss, 457 N.W.2d 385, 391 (Minn. 1990). A postconviction court has not abused its discretion if the record contains sufficient evidence to sustain the court’s findings. Burns v. State, 621 N.W.2d 55, 60-61 (Minn. App. 2001). A petitioner seeking postconviction relief has the burden of establishing, by a fair preponderance of the evidence, facts that warrant relief. Minn. Stat. § 590.04, subd. 3 (2000).
Appellant contends that the district court abused its discretion by finding that an adequate factual basis supported his plea when he claimed he blacked out and never admitted having the required intent for second-degree intentional murder. We disagree.
For a guilty plea to be accurate, it must be supported by a proper factual basis. State v. Ecker, 524 N.W.2d 712, 716 (Minn. 1994). Typically, an adequate factual basis is “established by questioning the defendant and asking the defendant to explain in his or her own words the circumstances surrounding the crime.” Id. An accurate plea protects the defendant from pleading guilty to an offense more serious than that of which he could be convicted if he were to go to trial. State v. Trott, 338 N.W.2d 248, 251 (Minn. 1983). It is the district court’s responsibility to ensure that an adequate factual basis has been established in the record. State v. Milton, 295 N.W.2d 94, 95 (Minn. 1980). The district court should question the defendant unless the court is satisfied that an adequate factual basis has been established. Ecker, 524 N.W.2d at 716. Although an adequate factual basis is preferably established through the defendant’s own testimony, there is not an exclusive method for satisfying the factual basis requirement. Kochevar v. State, 281 N.W.2d 680, 686 (Minn. 1979).
In this case, appellant was questioned at length by the court, his counsel, and the prosecutor when he pleaded guilty to intentional murder in the second degree. A person is guilty of second-degree intentional murder if he causes “the death of a human being with intent to effect the death of that person or another, but without premeditation.” Minn. Stat. § 609.19, subd. 1(1) (1990).
Intent is an inference drawn from the totality of the circumstances. State v. Raymond, 440 N.W.2d 425, 426 (Minn. 1989). The intent to kill can be inferred from the nature and extent of the victim’s wounds and the defendant’s conduct after leaving the victim. Id. Though appellant claims he blacked out during the actual stabbing, he admits to entering the victim’s apartment late at night, pushing her, following her as she retreated into her bedroom, and leaving her apartment with a bloody knife in his hand. Moreover, at his plea hearing, appellant twice admitted that a jury would probably find him guilty.
A defendant may plead guilty even if suffering memory loss if the record persuades the defendant that he is likely to be convicted of the crime charged. Ecker, 524 N.W.2d at 716. Because intent is inferred from the surrounding circumstances, and appellant admitted he would probably be found guilty of the charged offense, we find no manifest injustice requiring that appellant be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea. The district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that an adequate factual basis supported appellant’s plea.
Appellant contends that the district court abused its discretion by finding that his plea was intelligent and voluntary because he claims that he did not know he was pleading guilty to second-degree intentional murder. We disagree.
A plea must be intelligent and voluntary to be valid. Ecker, 524 N.W.2d at 716. An intelligent plea means “the defendant understands the charges, his or her rights under the law, and the consequences of pleading guilty.” Alanis, 583 N.W.2d at 577. “The voluntariness requirement insures the defendant is not pleading guilty because of improper pressures.” Ecker, 524 N.W.2d at 718.
Appellant’s plea was intelligent and voluntary because he testified that he went over his plea with his attorney and understood it. Further, appellant was given several opportunities to ask questions to clear up any possible confusion but declined each time. Moreover, appellant specifically testified that he was not under any pressures to plead guilty and that he was doing so of his own free will. Finally, appellant was never charged with unintentional murder, so it is unclear where a belief that that is the charge to which he was pleading would have come from. Presented with nothing more than appellant’s bare assertion that he thought he was pleading guilty to unintentional murder, we conclude that appellant understood the legal implications of his plea and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that appellant’s plea was intelligent and voluntary.
We additionally note that allowing appellant to withdraw his plea ten years after it was entered, making reprosecution difficult, significantly prejudiced the state. That prejudice to the state presents an additional argument against allowing withdrawal of the plea. See Chapman v. State, 282 Minn. 13, 16-17, 162 N.W.2d 698, 700-01 (1968) (stating that the “strongest of reasons” is necessary to vacate conviction based on guilty plea if effect prejudices or bars state from reprosecuting).
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.