994 P.2d 1059 (Idaho App. 1999), 23965, State v. Shanahan

Docket Nº:23965.
Citation:994 P.2d 1059, 133 Idaho 896
Opinion Judge:PERRY,
Party Name:STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Christopher T. SHANAHAN, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:Robert L. Crowley, Jr., Rigby, for appellant. Hon. Alan G. Lance, Attorney General; Alison A. Stieglitz, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Alison A. Stieglitz argued.
Case Date:December 01, 1999
Court:Court of Appeals of Idaho
 
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Page 1059

994 P.2d 1059 (Idaho App. 1999)

133 Idaho 896

STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent,

v.

Christopher T. SHANAHAN, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 23965.

Court of Appeals of Idaho.

December 1, 1999.

        Rehearing Denied Jan. 3, 2000.

Page 1060

       [133 Idaho 897] Robert L. Crowley, Jr., Rigby, for appellant.

        Hon. Alan G. Lance, Attorney General; Alison A. Stieglitz, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Alison A. Stieglitz argued.

        PERRY, Chief Judge.

        Christopher T. Shanahan appeals from the judgments of conviction and concurrent unified life sentences, with thirty-five years fixed, for first degree murder, I.C. § 18-8003(a), and ten years fixed for robbery, I.C. § 18-6501. Shanahan also appeals from the denial of his I.C.R. 35 motion. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

        I.

        BACKGROUND

        According to Shanahan's testimony at the trial of one of his co-defendants, Thomas P. Lundquist, Shanahan had spoken often of his desire to join a gang and believed that one way to become a member of a gang was to shoot someone. At a party on the evening of

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[133 Idaho 898] November 9, 1995, Shanahan discussed with several of his friends his plan to run away to Las Vegas, Nevada, and join a gang. Shanahan also shared his plan to rob the Grant store and, if necessary, shoot the clerk. In an effort to dissuade Shanahan from his proposed course of action, his friends offered Shanahan money for his trip to Las Vegas. However, Shanahan refused their offer.

        The next day, Shanahan, Lundquist and Benjamin Jenkins agreed to run away to Las Vegas. In preparing for that trip, Jenkins and Shanahan obtained three guns from Jenkins' home. The weapons included a double-barrel shotgun, a single-barrel shotgun and a .22 caliber rifle. After retrieving the weapons from Jenkins' home, the three proceeded to Lundquist's residence. At Lundquist's home, ammunition for the weapons was procured, and Shanahan obtained gloves and two gasoline cans.

        Also at Lundquist's residence, Shanahan and Jenkins sawed off the barrels and the stocks of the guns. The weapons were test fired after they were altered. One of the shotguns failed to operate properly. Therefore, after leaving the Lundquist residence, the three individuals went back to Jenkins' home where Shanahan and Jenkins obtained another weapon. Shanahan then drove the three in his car to the Grant store. Shanahan testified that all three individuals participated in a discussion regarding the robbery of the store, what each person's role would be, and the possible shooting of the clerk. Shanahan agreed that he would enter the store and shoot the clerk.

        After waiting for a delivery person to leave, Shanahan drove to the fuel pumps located at the store. After filling the car and two gas cans and waiting for another individual to leave, Shanahan signaled to Jenkins that he should to go into the store. Jenkins entered the store. Shanahan put on the gloves, so as not to leave fingerprints at the scene, picked up the .22 caliber sawed-off rifle, and entered the store. Shanahan moved down the aisle behind where the store clerk, Fidela Tomchak, was working. Shanahan stood behind Tomchak, lifted the gun, hesitated for a minute, then raised the gun again and fired, killing Tomchak. Shanahan went around to where the victim lay, looked at her, and then checked the store for other witnesses. Finding none, Shanahan went to the cash register, put the murder weapon on the counter, removed cash and cigarettes, and ran out of the store. Realizing that he left the murder weapon inside the store, however, Shanahan returned to the store to retrieve the rifle. After again leaving the store, Shanahan got into his car and the three individuals left the scene, driving to Las Vegas.

        Eventually, all three individuals were apprehended. Shanahan was charged with first degree murder and robbery. 1 Claiming that Shanahan had used a firearm in the commission of the crimes, the state alleged a sentencing enhancement. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Shanahan pled guilty to first degree murder and robbery, and the state dismissed the firearm enhancement. According to Shanahan's testimony, under the terms of the plea agreement, the state agreed not to pursue the death penalty and agreed to recommend that Shanahan receive concurrent sentences. After pleading guilty, Shanahan filed a motion requesting that he be sentenced pursuant to the Juvenile Corrections Act. The district court denied the motion. A presentence investigation report was prepared and testimony was presented at a sentencing hearing. The district court issued extensive findings of fact and sentenced Shanahan to concurrent unified life terms, with thirty-five years fixed for first degree murder and ten years fixed for robbery. Shanahan filed an I.C.R. 35 motion for reduction of the sentences, which the district court denied. Shanahan appeals.

        II.

        ANALYSIS

        A. Juvenile Corrections Act

         After entering his guilty pleas, Shanahan filed a motion requesting that he be sentenced as a juvenile pursuant to the Juvenile

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[133 Idaho 899] Corrections Act. He asserted that adult sentencing would be inappropriate considering his age, vulnerability and best interests. The district court denied the motion. Shanahan argues that the district court abused its discretion when it denied his motion.

        Idaho Code Section 20-509(4) states:

        The sentencing judge of any juvenile convicted pursuant to this section may choose to sentence the convicted person in accordance with the juvenile sentencing options set forth in this act, if a finding is made that adult sentencing measures would be inappropriate.

Shanahan asserts that the district court failed to give proper weight to his age, lack of maturity, life circumstances, and depression when it made the decision to sentence him as an adult. However, in order to sentence Shanahan as a juvenile, the district court was required to make a specific finding, not that sentencing Shanahan as a juvenile would be more appropriate but, that "adult sentencing measures would be inappropriate. " I.C. § 20-509(4) (emphasis added).

        In denying Shanahan's motion, the district court stated that it did not believe that sentencing Shanahan as a juvenile was appropriate or in Shanahan's best interests. Specifically, the district court commented that Shanahan "could not receive the proper type of incarceration ... for the crime that has occurred." Shanahan renewed his motion during the Rule 35 hearing, and the district court reconsidered its decision. After an extensive colloquy between the district court and Shanahan's counsel, the district court determined that sentencing Shanahan as a juvenile was "simply not a viable option under the circumstances of this case unless [it] were looking only at the rehabilitation and disregarding completely the other sentencing factors." The district court also noted that pursuant to the Juvenile Corrections Act, a four-year sentence was the maximum it could impose. See I.C. 20-520(q). The district court found such a sentence inappropriate for the crimes committed in this case.

        Thus, based on the record before it, this Court cannot say the district court abused its discretion when it denied Shanahan's motion to be sentenced as a juvenile.

        B. Cruel and Unusual Punishment

         Shanahan next contends that the concurrent unified life sentences, with thirty-five years fixed for first degree murder and...

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