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State v. Baxter

Supreme Court of Idaho

January 5, 2018

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
ROY AYERS BAXTER JR., Defendant-Appellant.

         2018 Opinion No. 3

         Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Jason D. Scott, District Judge.

         District court order denying motion to withdraw guilty plea, affirmed.

          Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.

          Andrea W. Reynolds, Deputy Appellate Public Defender argued.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

          Russell J. Spencer, Deputy Attorney General argued.

          BURDICK, CHIEF JUSTICE.

         Roy Ayers Baxter Jr. appeals his judgment of conviction entered in the Ada County district court. On appeal, Baxter contends the district court abused its discretion by denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. The Court of Appeals affirmed, and this Court granted Baxter's timely petition for review. We affirm the district court.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On February 14, 2016, after drinking alcohol for most of the day, Baxter "backhanded [his] wife in the throat area" while the two were driving in his car. When they eventually stopped driving and got out of his car, they continued arguing, and Baxter "threatened to kill her and punched her in the arm." Baxter's abuse left his wife with "a traumatic injury" and bruising. A no-contact order prohibiting Baxter from attempting to "contact, harass, follow, communicate with, or knowingly remain within 100 feet of: [his wife]" was issued shortly thereafter, but Baxter "call[ed] and talk[ed]" to his wife "between 1-14 times" after the issuance of the no-contact order.

         On March 17, 2016, the State charged Baxter with domestic violence under Idaho Code section 18-918(2) and violating the no-contact order under Idaho Code section 18-920. The State proposed a plea agreement, whereby, in exchange for Baxter's plea of guilty on the domestic violence charge, the State agreed to dismiss several other charges[1] and recommend probation on the condition that a domestic violence evaluation rated Baxter's likelihood to reoffend at "less than high risk[.]" As an additional contingency, the plea agreement prohibited Baxter from "acquiring a new criminal charge or charges between the date of this offer and sentencing, even if the charge or charges are not yet conviction(s)."

         Baxter was initially uncertain about whether to accept the State's proposed plea agreement. As Baxter's counsel explained:

[Baxter] wasn't sure about how he wanted to proceed. I advised him, well, let's get a domestic violence evaluation and see how it turns out. And if ultimately it comes back less than high risk, we have a plea agreement for probation. You can decide what you want to do. So we did.

         To that end, on June 17, 2016, Baxter obtained a domestic violence evaluation from Dr. Bill Arnold, Ph.D. During the evaluation, Baxter stated that he had "experiment[ed] with marijuana and cocaine, " but his only present usage of drugs was "social beer drink[ing]." He did not disclose use of methamphetamine. Further, Baxter explicitly denied hitting his wife or causing her injury. Dr. Arnold concluded Baxter "falls in the group of offenders who display a moderate to high risk of future violent offending."

         On June 28, 2016, when the State reviewed the domestic violence evaluation, it grew concerned over "gross omissions" it felt Baxter had made concerning his drug use and violent conduct. The State informed Baxter's counsel that it would not recommend a bond reduction of less than $100, 000 with pretrial release ...


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