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State v. Ricks

Appellate Court of Connecticut

November 5, 2019

STATE of Connecticut
Ronald RICKS

         Argued September 19, 2019

Page 91

         Appeal from the Superior Court in the judicial district of Fairfield, Comerford, J.

          Ronald Ricks, self-represented, the appellant (defendant).

         Michele C. Lukban, senior assistant state’s attorney, with whom, on the brief, were John C. Smriga, state’s attorney, and C. Robert Satti, Jr., supervisory assistant state’s attorney, for the appellee (state).

         Alvord, Moll and Norcott, Js.


          PER CURIAM.

         [194 Conn.App. 217] The defendant, Ronald Ricks, appeals from the judgment of the trial court denying his motion to correct an illegal sentence. On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court improperly concluded that he had breached his initial plea agreement with the state and that his sentence was not illegally imposed. Specifically, the defendant asserts that due process requires the state to prove, by a preponderance of evidence, that he was in breach of the initial plea agreement before the state could enter a second plea agreement. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Page 92

          The following facts and procedural history are relevant to this appeal. On April 9, 1999, the state offered, and the defendant accepted, a plea agreement in which the defendant agreed to plead guilty to the charge of felony murder in violation of General Statutes § 53a-54c, for crimes committed on December 12, 1997, and to testify truthfully in his codefendant’s trial, or, in the alternative, if his codefendant pleaded guilty without [194 Conn.App. 218] going to trial, the state would recommend the mandatory minimum sentence of twenty-five years of incarceration. The plea agreement also contained the stipulation that if the defendant refused to testify or did not testify truthfully, the state would recommend a more substantial sentence. The codefendant referred to in the plea agreement ultimately pleaded guilty, without going to trial, on April 15, 1999.

          On or before May 25, 1999, the defendant filed a grievance against his original attorney for alleged misrepresentations and requested that a new attorney be assigned to his case. At about the same time, the defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, as he believed he was induced, by his original attorney, to accept the initial plea agreement. When the defendant filed the motion to withdraw, the prosecutor forewarned the defendant that his sentence would likely be increased, stating in relevant part, "I’m quite confident that if [the defendant] is successful in anything, it’s going to be successful in, by the end of July, having himself about [a] ten to fifteen more year sentence that he already has secured for himself." Thereafter, the court appointed a substitute assigned counsel for the remainder of the defendant’s case.

          On June 18, 1999, the court held a sentencing hearing for the defendant. At the hearing, the defendant, having had a "change of heart," orally moved to withdraw his motion to withdraw the guilty plea. The court permitted the withdrawal of such motion. Immediately thereafter, the court vacated the defendant’s initial plea. Subsequently, the defendant pleaded guilty to felony murder. Accepting the state’s recommendation, the court sentenced the defendant to thirty years of incarceration, twenty-five of which is the mandatory minimum.

          On March 19, 2001, the defendant filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus alleging ineffective assistance [194 Conn.App. 219] of counsel, which was denied by the habeas court on June 28, 2004. Thereafter, the defendant filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence with the trial court. A hearing on the motion was held on December 13, 2017. Subsequently, the trial court, Devlin, J., denied the motion on February 20, 2018. This appeal followed.

         Our examination of the record on appeal and the briefs and arguments of the parties persuades us that the judgment of the trial court should be affirmed. The trial court’s memorandum of decision fully addresses the arguments raised in the present appeal, and we adopt its concise and well reasoned decision as a proper statement of the relevant facts and applicable law on the issue. See State v. Ricks, Superior Court, judicial district of Fairfield, Docket No. CV-97-135273, 2018 WL 1460696 (February 20, 2018) (reprinted at 194 Conn.App. 216, 221 A.3d 90). It serves no useful purpose for us to repeat the ...

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