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Eberley v. State

Court of Appeals of Idaho

September 5, 2013

ROBERT T. EBERLEY, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IDAHO, Respondent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

2013 Unpublished Opinion No. 660

Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Lynn G. Norton, District Judge.

Summary dismissal of action for post-conviction relief, affirmed.

Greg S. Silvey, Star, for appellant.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Jessica M. Lorello, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

LANSING, Judge

Robert T. Eberley appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief after he was convicted on a guilty plea of robbery. We affirm the judgment dismissing his petition.

I.

BACKGROUND

In February 2009, Eberley and two companions were visiting the Kuna Caves in the southern part of Ada County. Although the Court has not been presented a detailed account of what occurred at the caves, it is apparent that Eberley and his two companions were alleged to have forcibly robbed four youths who were also visiting the caves. According to the victims and Eberley's companions, during the encounter Eberley struck one of the victims in the head with a rock, stepped on that victim's back as he was lying on the ground, and told the victim to pull down his pants so that Eberley could rape him. Eberley and his companions were apprehended shortly after the incident and charged with four counts of robbery, Idaho Code §§ 18-6501, 18-6502, and 18-204. A short time later, Eberley agreed to plead guilty to one count of robbery. In return, the State agreed to dismiss the remaining three counts.

At the plea hearing, before accepting the guilty plea, the district court asked a number of questions to ensure that Eberley was entering the plea of his own will and to ensure that he understood the nature of the plea agreement. The court also asked if the defense had received sufficient discovery in the matter, to which defense counsel responded affirmatively. Finally, the court questioned Eberley about the factual basis of the charges. In response, Eberley recounted to the court, under oath, what had happened at the caves. Eberley told the court that he had held one of the victims down while the robbery was taking place by placing his foot in the middle of the victim's back. After hearing Eberley's account of the events, the prosecutor simply noted that "the [S]tate has a slightly different understanding of the facts. We'll present that more fully at sentencing for the court."

At the subsequent sentencing hearing, the State argued that the facts of the case were more egregious than Eberley's account at the plea hearing. The State argued that in addition to placing his foot on the victim's back, Eberley also hit that victim in the head with a rock and threatened to rape him.

Eberley disputed the State's version of events, and claimed that the other defendants' statements were self-serving and attributed to Eberley actions that were in fact committed by the other defendants. Eberley first claimed that he never hit the victim with a rock and directed the court to Detective Barker's police report. According to the report:

[Detective Barker] looked at the scalp and verified the location of the strike by touching the victim's head. [The victim] told [Barker] he felt a bump on his head. [Barker] felt the victim's head and felt no bump. [Barker] looked closely at the scalp around the area identified as the strike point and was not able to see any abrasions or other marks. Neither did [Barker] observe any swelling or redness to the area.

The report also notes that Detective Barker photographed that area on the victim's head, but this photo was not provided to the court.

Eberley also denied threatening to rape the victim. Instead, Eberley claimed that the remark was made in a jovial manner prior to the robbery as the group of victims and Eberley's companions were climbing down into the cave together. The court, however, was unconvinced, and told Eberley:

I've had the benefit of reading all three presentence reports and having the benefit of the statements of all the defendants in this case, as well as the statements of the victims in this case. . . . [T]he others [are] consistent in the fact that you had [the victim] down on the ground, had your foot on his back, told him to take his pants off, that you were going to rape him. You're saying something different today, but that's ...

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