may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
State of Minnesota,
File No. 96002327
Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55155; and
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Gayle C. Hendley, Assistant County Attorney, Mary M. Lynch, Staff Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
Mark D. Nyvold, 1030 Minnesota Building, 46 East Fourth Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Short, Judge.
Appellant challenges the denial of her petition for postconviction relief, arguing that (1) the record does not contain an adequate factual basis to support her guilty plea and (2) the district court erred when it determined that her petition was untimely. We affirm.
Wright arranged to meet with McDonald to purchase drugs. Wright then told the three men that McDonald was to meet her at 27th and Stevens in Minneapolis. She described McDonald to the men, told them what he would be wearing, and told them that he would be riding a bicycle. She also told Robinson that McDonald regularly carried a gun. Wright knew that Robinson also carried a gun.
When McDonald arrived at 27th and Stevens, he was met by the three men. The men beat, robbed, and ultimately shot and killed McDonald.
Wright was arrested and indicted for first-degree murder. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Wright pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 609.19(2), (Supp. 1995), 609.05 (1994). Wright was sentenced to an executed 12-year prison term.
Wright filed a petition for postconviction relief, seeking to withdraw her guilty plea. Wright claimed that the factual basis was inadequate to support her guilty plea because she never directly admitted that she intended to rob McDonald. The district court denied Wright's petition.
State v. Rainer, 502 N.W.2d 784, 787 (Minn. 1993) (citation omitted). The district court's decision not to allow withdrawal of a plea "will be reversed only in the rare case in which the appellate court can fairly conclude that the [district] court abused its discretion." Kim v. State, 434 N.W.2d 263, 266 (Minn. 1989).
To be valid, a guilty plea must be accurate, voluntary, and intelligent. State v. Trott, 338 N.W.2d 248, 251 (Minn. 1983). "A proper factual basis must be established for a guilty plea to be accurate." State v Ecker, 524 N.W.2d 712, 716 (Minn. 1994). "Once a guilty plea has been entered, there is no absolute right to withdraw it." Shorter v. State, 511 N.W.2d 743, 746 (Minn. 1994). However,
[a] defendant may withdraw a guilty plea after sentencing "upon a timely motion and proof to the satisfaction of the court that withdrawal of the plea is necessary to correct a manifest injustice. "
Ecker, 524 N.W.2d at 715-16 (quoting Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd.1).
Wright contends that the plea inquiry at her plea hearing essentially involved her attorney making statements and her agreeing with them. She argues that the statements she agreed to do not establish a factual basis for her guilty plea because she "never admitted personally to agreeing to rob Mr. McDonald, or to intentionally assisting anyone who may have decided to rob him." We disagree.
A defendant's answers to questions may provide a factual basis for the plea, even though no questions were specifically directed to the element of intent. State v. Hopkins, 293 Minn. 522, 523, 198 N.W.2d 542, 542 (1972). If a defendant had a full opportunity to consult with counsel before entering a plea, the court may presume that counsel informed defendant "adequately concerning the nature and elements of the offense." State v. Russell, 306 Minn. 274, 275, 236 N.W.2d 612, 613 (1975).
Wright pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 609.19(2) (Supp. 1995), and 609.05 (1994). Under Minn. Stat. § 609.19(2), a person is guilty of unintentional murder in the second degree if that person
causes the death of a human being, without intent to effect the death of any person, while committing or attempting to commit a felony offense other than criminal sexual conduct in the first or second degree with force or violence.
The robbery of McDonald was a felony offense. See Minn. Stat. § 609.24 (1994) (whoever takes personal property from person and uses force to overcome person's resistance is guilty of robbery and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than ten years); Minn. Stat. § 609.02, subd. 2 (1994) ("`Felony' means a crime for which a sentence of imprisonment for more than one year may be imposed.")
A person is responsible for the crimes of another where she "intentionally aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with or otherwise procures the other to commit the crime." Minn. Stat. 609.05, subd. 1.
A person liable under [Minn. Stat. 609.05,] subdivision 1 is also liable for any other crime committed in pursuance of the intended crime if reasonably foreseeable by the person as a probable consequence of committing or attempting to commit the crime intended.
Minn. Stat. § 609.05, subd. 2.
"Presence, companionship, and conduct before and after an offense are circumstances from which a person's criminal intent may be inferred." State v. Russell, 503 N.W.2d 110, 114 (Minn. 1993).
Inaction, knowledge, or passive acquiescence, however, do not rise to the level of conduct encompassed by Minn. Stat. § 609.05, subd. 1. To impose liability under the statute, the state must show that the defendant encouraged the principal to "take a course of action which he might not otherwise have taken."
Id. (citation omitted) (quoting State v. Ulvinen, 313 N.W.2d 425, 428 (Minn. 1981)). The state meets its burden by showing some knowing role in the commission of a crime by a defendant who took no steps to thwart completion of the crime. Id.
The record reflects that Wright had an opportunity to discuss the plea agreement with counsel before she pleaded guilty. Her attorney asked her several questions at the plea hearing, including whether she understood that she was admitting to being criminally liable for the actions of the men who robbed and killed McDonald. Wright testified to having several conversations with the three men about robbing McDonald. Wright also admitted that she provided the men with information that they needed to carry out the robbery. Wright further testified to being aware that the men were planning to meet McDonald for the purpose of robbing him of drugs and money, and that she knew Robinson, the shooter, carried a gun. These admissions demonstrate that Wright aided the three men in their robbery of McDonald, a crime in which the use of deadly force was reasonably foreseeable, and, therefore, establish her liability for McDonald's murder during the robbery.
Wright failed to demonstrate, by a fair preponderance of the evidence, facts that warrant a reopening of her case. The evidence supports the postconviction court's finding that there was a factual basis for Wright's guilty plea. The postconviction court did not abuse its discretion by denying Wright's petition to withdraw her guilty plea.
Because Wright has not demonstrated that withdrawal of her guilty plea is necessary to correct a manifest injustice, we need not decide whether the postconviction court erred in concluding that Wright's petition was untimely.