ROMAN G. SANCHEZ, Appellant (Defendant),
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff).
from the District Court of Uinta County The Honorable Joseph
B. Bluemel, Judge
Representing Appellant: Joshua J. Merseal, Laramie, Wyoming.
Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney
General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General;
Christyne M. Martens, Senior Assistant Attorney General.
BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
Roman G. Sanchez filed a post-sentence motion to withdraw his
no contest plea. The district court denied his motion and he
appeals. This Court concludes that the district court did not
have jurisdiction to consider the motion and that this Court
likewise lacks jurisdiction to consider this appeal.
The dispositive issue is whether the district court had
subject matter jurisdiction to consider Mr. Sanchez's
Motion to Withdraw Guilty/No Contest Plea.
Mr. Sanchez was charged with second-degree murder in 2008. He
entered into a plea agreement and changed his plea of not
guilty to no contest. At the change of plea hearing, before
accepting a plea from Mr. Sanchez, the district court gave
the necessary advisements, and Mr. Sanchez acknowledged that
he understood his constitutional rights, the assessments he
would have to pay, the collateral consequences of a
conviction, and that the minimum sentence for second-degree
murder was 20 years of incarceration and the maximum was
life. The district court asked both the State and defense
counsel if there was a plea agreement, and for reasons now
unknown, both attorneys answered no. Mr. Sanchez then entered
his plea of no contest, which the district court accepted.
Prior to sentencing, Mr. Sanchez filed a motion to withdraw
his plea of no contest on the grounds that he felt
"pressured into accepting the offer and was unaware of
the consequences the plea would have." At a hearing on
the motion, the district court discussed the previous change
of plea hearing with Mr. Sanchez, reaffirming that Mr.
Sanchez understood the consequences of entering the plea and
that he did so voluntarily. Mr. Sanchez testified that he
felt that had he not entered a plea, the State could possibly
bring first-degree murder and kidnapping charges against him,
as well as the second-degree murder charge. The district
court explained to Mr. Sanchez that those additional charges
could be appropriate under the circumstances. The prosecutor
then clarified that "if there was a sentencing on the
second degree murder charge, the State would not file any
other charges against Mr. Sanchez dealing with this event at
all." Mr. Sanchez subsequently withdrew his motion to
withdraw his no contest plea.
At the sentencing hearing on June 20, 2008, the district
court imposed a sentence of life with the possibility of
parole. Mr. Sanchez did not appeal from his conviction.
Eleven months later, Mr. Sanchez filed a Motion for
Reconsideration of Judgment and Sentence Reduction,
requesting that the district court modify his sentence from
life with the possibility of parole to a term of no less than
20 years and no more than 25 years. Mr. Sanchez contended
that it was "the current policy of the State not to
reduce or commute a life sentence at all, " and without
a bottom number, he would never become parole eligible as
intended by his plea agreement. The district court found it
lacked jurisdiction to consider the motion and denied it. Mr.
Sanchez did not appeal.
On December 10, 2014, the State and counsel for Mr. Sanchez
filed a joint motion to correct an illegal sentence, pursuant
to W.R.Cr.P. 11(e) and 35(a), agreeing that Mr. Sanchez had
not been sentenced in accordance with the terms of his plea
agreement.The parties stipulated that Mr. Sanchez had
accepted a plea agreement where "he would plead to the
charge of Murder in the 2nd Degree, contrary to
W.S. §6-2-104, and the State of Wyoming would not file
charges for kidnapping, felony murder or 1st
degree murder, "and explained that at the time of the plea
agreement, all parties had the understanding that "the
Parole Board would be able to consider the case for Parole at
any time consistent with its rules." The parties later
discovered that because Mr. Sanchez "was sentenced
without a 'bottom number' or minimum term, he would
never go in front of the Parole Board for consideration of
parole after service of a certain number of years." The
district court amended Mr. Sanchez's sentence to "no
less than Forty-Five (45) years to Life Imprisonment With
Possibility of Parole."
Mr. Sanchez did not appeal, but a year later, apparently
dissatisfied with his stipulated sentence amendment, filed a
Motion for Sentence Reduction, Motion to Vacate Illegal
Sentence and Set for Resentencing and Motion to Withdraw
Guilty/No Contest Plea, requesting that the district court
either: "1) reduce his sentence for second degree murder
from forty-five (45) years to life to twenty (20) years to
twenty-five (25) years; 2) set aside the current sentence and
set this case for resentencing; and/or 3) allow Mr. Sanchez
to withdraw his guilty plea." The district court denied
Mr. Sanchez's motion, ...