This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).






State of Minnesota,


Tegre Matlock,


Filed May 23, 2006

Reversed and remanded

Stoneburner, Judge


Ramsey County District Court

File No. K2042891


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and


Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Mark Nathan Lystig, Assistant County Attorney, Suite 315, 50 West Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)


John M. Stuart, Minnesota Public Defender, Cathryn Middlebrook, Assistant Public Defender, Suite 425, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Willis, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N




            Appellant challenges his sentence, arguing that the district court erred by imposing a longer sentence than was provided for in his plea agreement without giving him an opportunity to withdraw his plea.  Because we agree, we reverse and remand with directions for the district court to impose the sentence provided for in the plea agreement or allow appellant to withdraw his guilty plea.



            Appellant Tegre Matlock pleaded guilty to a charge of burglary in the second degree in exchange for the promise of a 10-month downward departure from the 51-month presumptive guidelines sentence, dismissal of an unrelated charge, and release pending sentencing.  The plea agreement also provided that Matlock had an absolute right to withdraw his plea of guilty if the district court did not approve the agreement.

            The district court accepted the plea but warned Matlock that if he failed to appear for sentencing or failed to cooperate with the presentence investigation, the district court “would add some more time” to the sentence.  Matlock acknowledged his understanding of the warning, but failed to appear for sentencing and failed to cooperate with the presentence investigation.  Matlock was arrested and appeared for sentencing approximately two months after the originally scheduled sentencing date.

            At sentencing, the state asked the district court to impose the presumptive sentence because Matlock had breached the agreement by failing to satisfy the district court’s conditions.  The district court dismissed the unrelated charge under the plea agreement, but imposed the presumptive sentence.  This appeal followed.  In response to the appeal, the state filed a “stipulation to judgment” conceding that under case law, Matlock is entitled to have his sentence reduced as agreed to in the plea agreement.  This court issued an order concluding that there is no authority for a motion for summary reversal and that the state’s stipulation represents its position on appeal. 

            “Interpretation and enforcement of plea agreements present issues of law that we review de novo.”  State v. Jumping Eagle, 620 N.W.2d 42, 43 (Minn. 2000).  “[A] defendant has a right to challenge his guilty plea on direct appeal even though he has not moved to withdraw the guilty plea in the district court,” and “a defendant cannot waive the right to appeal a sentence.”  State v. Anyanwu, 681 N.W.2d 411, 413 (Minn. App. 2004). 

            The district court must “reject or accept the plea of guilty on the terms of the plea agreement.”  Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.04, subd. 3(1).  A sentencing court is within its rights to consider a defendant’s actions between plea and sentencing and to reject the plea agreement based on those actions.  State v. Kunshier, 410 N.W.2d 377, 380 (Minn. App. 1987), review denied (Minn. Oct. 21, 1987).  And if the prosecutor withdraws from a plea agreement based on such actions, the defendant must be allowed to withdraw the plea.  Id.

            The district court may not improperly inject itself into plea negotiations.  Anyanwu, 681 N.W.2d at 414.  The district court could have rejected the plea agreement at sentencing based on appellant’s failure to appear for sentencing when scheduled and failure to cooperate with the presentence investigation.  But the district court erred by altering the terms of the plea agreement.  We therefore reverse the sentence imposed and remand for the district court to accept the plea agreement and impose the sentence contained in the plea agreement or reject the plea agreement and allow Matlock to withdraw his plea of guilty.

            Reversed and remanded.