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State v. Parker

Supreme Court of Maine

February 14, 2017

STATE OF MAINE
v.
WALTER A. PARKER

          Argued: October 27, 2016

          Merritt T. Heminway, Esq. (orally), H&H LawCenter, P.A., Portland, for appellant Walter A. Parker

          Stephanie Anderson, District Attorney, and Meghan E. Connelly, Asst. Dist. Atty. (orally), and Trevor Savage, Stud. Atty., District Attorneys Office, Portland, for appellee State of Maine

          Lawrence C. Winger, Esq., amicus curiae pro se

          Panel: SAUFLEY C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          ALEXANDER, J.

         [¶1] Walter A. Parker appeals the sentence imposed on him by the trial court (Cumberland County, Warren, J.) following a resentencing hearing. The sentence was imposed following Parkers plea of guilty to three counts of gross sexual assault (Class A), 17-A M.R.S. § 253(1)(C) (2016), and two counts of unlawful sexual contact (Class B), 17-A M.R.S. § 255-A(1)(E-1) (2016). All charges involved sexual assaults on a nine-year-old girl over an extended period of time. The court ultimately sentenced Parker to a twenty-year term of imprisonment followed by fifteen years of supervised release, in accordance with 17-A M.R.S § 1231(2)(C) (2016) and 17-A M.R.S. § 1252(4-E) (2016).

          [¶2] Parker contends that the supervised release sentencing, mandated by law, is unconstitutional, as a violation of the due process clause, because it "punishes [the] defendant for his status and particular characteristics, and not for substantive criminal conduct"; and as a violation of the double jeopardy clause because it "may incarcerate [the] defendant twice based upon his substantive criminal conduct and not for his status and particular characteristics." Parker also contends that imposition of a mandatory term of supervised release resulted in a sentence to "more prison time than under a traditional Hewey[1] analysis." We affirm the sentence.

         I. CASE HISTORY

         [¶3] The sentencing court found the following facts, which are supported by the record. Prior to the events leading to this appeal, Parker had a "lengthy criminal history" including "a few felonies and a lot of misdemeanors." The prior felonies included burglary, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, and operating a motor vehicle in violation of the habitual offender law. Parkers probations on his prior sentences had been "violated on numerous occasions."

          [¶4] The court further found that Parker had sexually assaulted the nine-year-old victim on several occasions over an extended period of time, and that Parker was in a position of trust in the household and acted as a parental figure to the victim.

         [¶5] As a result of this conduct, Parker was indicted on two counts of unlawful sexual contact (Class B) 17-A M.R.S. § 255-A(1)(E-1) and three counts of gross sexual assault (Class A) 17-A M.R.S. § 253(1)(C), all involving a victim under twelve years of age.

         [¶6] On July 13, 2015, Parker pleaded guilty to all five counts in the indictment. The court (Clifford, J.) accepted the plea of guilty, and continued the matter for sentencing before any judge.

         [¶7] Parker appeared before the court (Warren, J.) for sentencing on November 20, 2015. At the sentencing hearing, the State outlined the facts of Parkers sexual violence against the victim, which had occurred over the course of more than one year. During the first sentencing hearing, the State and Parker argued for different sentences, but each argued for a sentence that would include a significant underlying sentence, with part of the underlying sentence suspended and Parker being placed on probation for a significant period of time following release from imprisonment.

          [¶8] For a gross sexual assault committed against a person under twelve years of age, the basic term of imprisonment to begin the analysis required by 17-A M.R.S. § 1252-C (2016) is set at "a term of at least 20 years." 17-A M.R.S. § 1252(4-E) (2016). As a result, the court, in calculating the basic term of imprisonment pursuant to section 1252(4-E) and step one of its section 1252-C analysis, began with the mandated basic term of imprisonment of twenty years. The court stated that Parker was a parental figure in the household and that the frequency of the sexual violence was a sentence aggravating factor, particularly because it was committed against a nine-year-old. The court concluded that this conduct raised the basic sentence to twenty-two years.

         [¶9] In step two of its section 1252-C analysis, the court addressed the aggravating and mitigating factors. The court found that the victim impact was significant in that she was continuously subjected to this conduct and had been afraid to tell anyone until a few years after the sexual assaults stopped. The court also found that Parkers lengthy criminal history and repeated violations of probation were aggravating factors. Addressing mitigating factors, the court stated that Parker had accepted responsibility from the very beginning. In doing so, he avoided a trial, and the victim would not be put through that "extraordinarily unpleasant" experience. The final mitigating factor the court found was that Parker wants help and counseling, and understands that he presents a public safety issue. The court noted that the aggravating and mitigating factors were "in exact equipoise" and therefore determined that the maximum period of incarceration was twenty-two years.

         [¶10] At step three of the section 1252-C analysis, and addressing the issue of probation, the court noted, based on Parkers psychological evaluation, that Parker was in need of "not just treatment but supervision, given that he is at risk of reoffending." As a result, the court determined that all but fourteen years of Parkers term ...


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