Facts: Petitioner Corey Beito was convicted on a guilty plea of first degree murder. The trial court imposed and exceptional sentence because the additional finding that Beito rapped the victim was motive for and closely connected to the murder supported a sentence above the standard range. Beito sought relief from personal restraint contending that a Blakely error was committed when the trial judge imposed an exceptional sentence because he had a Sixth Amendment right to have a jury determine the additional fact of rape the trial court relied on in imposing the exceptional sentence. The Court of Appeals dismissed Beito’s personal restraint petition (PRP), and the Supreme Court of Washington granted Beito’s petition for discretionary review.
Questions: Is it error for the trial court to impose an exceptional sentence based on unstipulated facts or those not proved to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt?
Conclusion: Justice Charles W. Johnson’s opinion for the Court held that the fact finding by the trial court was in error, as it violated Beito’s Sixth Amendment rights. Since Beito had not stipulated to facts that comprise an aggravating factor or to judicial fact finding, the trial court must impanel a jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating fact that rape was a motive and closely connected to the murder existed. Although Beito stipulated to both the murder and rape, he did not stipulate that these facts existed to support an exceptional sentence, or that the trial court could in engage in judicial fact finding. Since it was procedurally impossible for the trial court to impanel a jury to reach a constitutionally acceptable finding of the aggravating factors to support Beito’s exception sentence under the sentencing provisions in effect at the time, the Court reversed the lower courts’ judgments and remanded for resentencing within the standard range.
Petitioner: Corey Beito
(Counsel: Jeffrey E. Ellis)
Respondent: State of Washington
(Counsel: Daniel T. Satterberg, Ann Marie Summers, and James M. Whisman)
- Motion for Disc Review
- Personal Restraint Petition
- Personal Restraint Petition of Beito
- Petitioner's Court of Appeals Reply
- Petitioner's Supplemental Brief
- Petitioner's Supreme Court Reply
- Petitioner's Surreply
- State's Response to Motion and Supplemental Pleading
- State's Response to Motion for Disc Review
- State's Response to Personal Restraint Petition
- State's Supplemental Response to Motion for Disc Review
- Supplemental Brief in Support of Disc Review
Argument: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 2:30pm
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Thursday, November 12th, 2009
Prevailing Party: Corey Beito (Petitioner)
Opinion: 167 Wn.2d 497 (2009)
Court: Alexander4 Court (2008-2009)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form. Each opinion should appear next to the Justice who authored it.