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Williams v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

August 4, 2015

KELVIN WAYNE WILLIAMS, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff)

As Amended August 13, 2015.

Page 955

Appeal from the District Court of Sweetwater County. The Honorable Richard L. Lavery, Judge.

For Appellant: Office of the State Public Defender: Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Olson, Chief Appellate Counsel; Eric M. Alden, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel. Argument by Mr. Alden.

For Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Jenny L. Craig, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Joshua C. Eames, Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Mr. Eames.

Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, KITE[*], DAVIS, and FOX, JJ.

OPINION

Page 956

FOX, Justice.

[¶1] Kelvin Williams pled guilty to third-degree sexual assault and nolo contendere to abuse of a vulnerable adult, for entering the home of 68-year-old A.S. and touching her breast while she lay on her bed, breathing from an oxygen tank. At the plea hearing, the court read both charges from the Information, advised Mr. Williams of the consequences of his pleas, inquired whether Mr. Williams understood the charges and was satisfied with his counsel, and asked questions to establish a factual basis for the pleas. On appeal, Mr. Williams contends neither plea was informed because the court failed to adequately explain the charges and establish sufficient factual bases. We affirm.

ISSUES

[¶2] We restate the issues as follows:

1. Did the district court adequately explain the nature of Mr. Williams' third-degree sexual assault charge and obtain a sufficient factual basis for his guilty plea?

2. Did the district court adequately explain the nature of Mr. Williams' abuse of a vulnerable adult charge and obtain a sufficient factual basis for his nolo contendere plea?

FACTS

[¶3] The Sweetwater county prosecutor filed a criminal Information against Mr. Williams, charging him with two counts of third-degree sexual assault, one count of abuse of a vulnerable adult, and one count of burglary. The Information described the two sexual assault counts as follows:

On or about the 26th day of October, 2012, subject a victim, namely: A.S., to sexual contact under any of the circumstances of W.S. 6-2-302(a)(i) through (iv) or 6-2-303(a)(i) through (vi) without inflicting sexual intrusion on the victim and without causing serious bodily injury to the victim, contrary to W.S. § 6-2-304(a)(iii) - SEXUAL ASSAULT IN THE THIRD DEGREE,
a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than fifteen (15) years and the court may also impose a fine that shall not be more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00), W.S. § 6-2-306(a)(iii) and W.S. § 6-10-102.

[¶4] At Mr. Williams' arraignment, the district court read the charges as listed in the Information without specifying which of the ten[1] statutory provisions referenced in the sexual assault charges applied to Mr. Williams. Mr. Williams pled not guilty to all four counts.

[¶5] As the proceedings unfolded, Mr. Williams expressed dissatisfaction with his first appointed attorney and, after waiving his right to a speedy trial, was provided a second attorney. The second attorney filed a motion for a bill of particulars seeking clarification of which subsection of either Wyo. Stat. Ann. § § 6-2-302 or 6-2-303 Mr. Williams was alleged to have violated. During a hearing on the motion, the prosecutor explained: " What the State is going to allege for both of the sexual assaults would be under the Sexual Assault in the Second Degree subsection 6-2-303 -- 6-2-303 (a) two little (ii)s, the actor causes submission of the victim by any means that would prevent resistance by a victim of ordinary resolution."

[¶6] Pursuant to a plea agreement, Mr. Williams eventually pled guilty to one count of third-degree sexual assault and nolo contendere to the abuse of a vulnerable adult charge. Prior to receiving Mr. Williams'

Page 957

pleas, the district court explained the maximum sentence and restitution for each of the four charges. The court asked Mr. Williams, " Do you have any questions about the charges or the possible penalties?" Mr. Williams responded, " No, sir, I don't." The court went on:

The Court: Mr. Williams, when you were here at your arraignment you plead [sic] not guilty and the Court set the matter for trial, and as I indicated earlier this matter was set to go to trial commencing next Tuesday. I have now been notified by the parties that there has been a plea agreement reached between you and your attorney and the county attorney's office. Is that your understanding?
[Mr. Williams]: Yes, your Honor.
The Court: Is it your understanding that you will change your plea today pursuant to that agreement?
[Mr. Williams]: Yes, sir.
The Court: [Defense Counsel], would you put the plea agreement on the record.[2]
[Defense Counsel]: Yes, your Honor, I will.
Your Honor, [Mr. Williams] will plead guilty to Count I, third degree sexual assault. The State will dismiss Count II, third degree sexual assault. He will plead guilty to vulnerable adult -- violation of a vulnerable adult statute and that will be a -- excuse me, your Honor, a no contest plea on Count III. Then Count IV, the Burglary, will be dismissed. [Mr. Williams] will serve a term of incarceration on Count I and Count III of five to eight years in the Wyoming State Penitentiary. Both counts to run concurrent with each other.
The Court: Mr. Williams, is that your understanding?
. . . .
[Mr. Williams]: Yes, sir.
The Court: So, Mr. Williams, do you feel like you understand the plea agreement and the consequences of that agreement?
[Mr. Williams]: Yes, sir, I do.
The Court: Is it your desire today to go ahead with it?
[Mr. Williams]: Yes, sir.
. . . .
The Court: Is your change of plea today voluntary?
[Mr. Williams]: Yes, sir.
. . . .
The Court: Have you talked to [Defense Counsel] about your plea ...

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