from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, State
of Idaho, Cassia County. Hon. Michael R. Crabtree, District
denying petition for post-conviction relief, affirmed.
D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Justin M.
Curtis, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for
Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Theodore S. Tollefson,
Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.
Manuel Arellano appeals from the district court's order
denying his petition for post-conviction relief. Arellano
argues the district court erred in ruling he did not
establish ineffective assistance of counsel because counsel
did not advise Arellano of the elements of second degree
murder. For the reasons provided below, we affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
was charged with the first degree murder of his wife, an
enhanced penalty for use of a deadly weapon, aggravated
assault, and attempted murder. The charges arose out of an
incident in southern Idaho in which Arellano shot and killed
his wife, the deadly bullet then struck another person, and
Arellano allegedly threatened to kill and attempted to shoot
a person at the bar who tried to intervene. In part, the
evidence relied upon by the State for the first degree murder
charge was the early admission by Arellano to police that he
had intended to kill his wife when he went to the bar that
evening. The State also relied on a text message sent a few
hours earlier by Arellano to a friend which read, "Voi
amatar esa piruja." Arellano pled guilty to first degree
murder and the enhanced penalty for use of a deadly weapon,
entering an Alfordplea regarding the elements of
malice aforethought, Idaho Code § 18-4001, and
premeditation, I.C. § 18-4003(a). Arellano was sentenced
to a unified life term of confinement, with twenty-two years
determinate. Arellano appealed, arguing the district court
abused its discretion by imposing an excessive sentence. This
Court affirmed the judgment of conviction and sentence.
State v. Arellano, Docket No. 38880 (May 7, 2012)
then filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief,
which the district court summarily dismissed. Arellano v.
State, 158 Idaho 708, 709, 351 P.3d 636, 637 (Ct. App.
2015). Arellano appealed, and this Court reversed the
district court's summary dismissal on the claim of
ineffective assistance of counsel that defense counsel
informed Arellano that his mental state at the time of his
wife's death was irrelevant. Id. at 711, 351
P.3d at 639.
remand, both Arellano and his defense counsel testified at
the evidentiary hearing. The State and Arellano then filed
post-evidentiary hearing briefs. In Arellano's
post-evidentiary hearing brief, he did not argue that counsel
was ineffective for informing Arellano that his mental state
was irrelevant. Rather, Arellano argued counsel was
ineffective for failing to advise him of the elements of
second degree murder and the application of the facts to
those elements. The State objected to Arellano's
post-hearing attempt to amend or refine the claim tried on
remand, noting Arellano's failure to amend his petition
and asserting prejudice based on lack of notice.
a footnote in its findings of fact and conclusions of law,
the district court found that Arellano did not make any
argument or identify any evidence produced at trial to
support the claim that Arellano's counsel was ineffective
for informing Arellano that facts concerning his mental state
were irrelevant. The district court concluded the issue was
waived. The district court then addressed Arellano's
post-evidentiary hearing argument, ruling as to the
deficiency prong of Strickland that Arellano
failed to establish that his counsel owed him a duty to
advise him of the elements of the uncharged offense of second
degree murder. As to the prejudice prong of
Strickland, the district court ruled that because
Arellano did not provide any evidence regarding the reasons
he pled guilty to first degree murder, he failed to establish
that, had counsel advised Arellano of the elements of second
degree murder, he would not have pled guilty and would
instead have insisted on going to trial. Having concluded
that Arellano failed to establish both deficient performance
and prejudice, the district court denied Arellano's
petition for post-conviction relief. Arellano timely appeals.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
of ineffective assistance of counsel may properly be brought
under the Uniform Post-Conviction Procedure Act. Barcella
v. State, 148 Idaho 469, 477, 224 P.3d 536, 544 (Ct.
App. 2009). To prevail on an ineffective assistance of
counsel claim, the petitioner must show that the
attorney's performance was deficient and that the
petitioner was prejudiced by the deficiency. Strickland
v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-88 (1984); Self v.
State, 145 Idaho 578, 580, 181 P.3d 504, 506 (Ct. App.
2007). To establish a deficiency, the petitioner has the
burden of showing that the attorney's representation fell
below an objective standard of reasonableness. Aragon v.
State, 114 Idaho 758, 760, 760 P.2d 1174, 1176 (1988);
Knutsen v. State, 144 Idaho 433, 442, 163 P.3d 222,
231 (Ct. App. 2007). Where, as here, the petitioner was
convicted upon a guilty plea, to satisfy the prejudice
element, the petitioner must show that there is a reasonable
probability that, but for counsel's errors, he or she
would not have pled guilty and would have insisted on going
to trial. Plant v. State, 143 Idaho 758, 762, 152
P.3d 629, 633 (Ct. App. 2006). This Court has long adhered to
the proposition that tactical or strategic decisions of trial
counsel will not be second-guessed on appeal unless those
decisions are based on inadequate preparation, ignorance of
relevant law, or other shortcomings capable of objective
evaluation. Gonzales v. State, 151 Idaho 168, 172,
254 P.3d 69, 73 (Ct. App. 2011). In order to prevail in a
post-conviction proceeding, the petitioner must prove the
allegations by a preponderance of the evidence. I.C. §
19-4907; Stuart v. State, 118 Idaho 865, 869, 801
P.2d 1216, 1220 (1990); Baxter v. State, 149 Idaho
859, 861, 243 P.3d 675, 677 (Ct. App. 2010).
reviewing a decision denying post-conviction relief after an
evidentiary hearing, an appellate court will not disturb the
lower court's factual findings unless they are clearly
erroneous. Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a); Dunlap v.
State, 141 Idaho 50, 56, 106 P.3d 376, 382 (2004);
Russell v. State, 118 Idaho 65, 67, 794 P.2d 654,
656 (Ct. App. 1990). The credibility of the witnesses, the
weight to be given to their testimony, and the inferences to
be drawn from the evidence are all matters solely within the
province of the district court. Dunlap, 141 Idaho at
56, 106 P.3d at 382; Larkin v. State, 115 Idaho 72,
73, 764 ...