People v. Fields, 82CA0628

Decision Date09 August 1984
Docket NumberNo. 82CA0628,82CA0628
Citation697 P.2d 749
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Paul Louis FIELDS, Defendant-Appellant. . II
CourtColorado Court of Appeals

Duane Woodard, Atty. Gen., Charles B. Howe, Chief Deputy Atty. Gen., Richard H. Forman, Sol. Gen., Maureen Phelan, Asst. Atty. Gen., Denver, for plaintiff-appellee.

Mary G. Allen, Denver, for defendant-appellant.

BERMAN, Judge.

Defendant, Paul Louis Fields, appeals his convictions by a jury of one count of first degree murder in the shooting death of Douglas Clunie and two counts of attempted first degree murder in the shooting and attempted shooting of Jay Davis and Anthony Butera, respectively. We affirm.

In August 1980 the defendant, a former deputy sheriff in Denver, began to work as a security guard at a K-Mart Store in Arapahoe County. The defendant worked with Jay Davis, the director of security for the store. Their immediate supervisor was Doug Clunie. The manager of the store was Anthony Butera.

Butera had decided to terminate defendant's employment because of an alleged incident of lying by the defendant. On the afternoon of March 19, 1981, the defendant arrived at work and was told that Butera wanted to talk with him in his office. Butera, who was fearful of how defendant might react to his termination, made final preparations for his confrontation with defendant by clearing his desk of various items which might be usable as weapons and by sending Clunie to locate Davis so that Davis could join Butera and Clunie in the meeting with defendant.

Butera and defendant sat alone for several minutes until Clunie returned with Davis. After all four men were seated, Butera informed defendant that he was terminating him and explained the reasons for the termination.

The defendant responded by stating that the termination was part of a "conspiracy to get rid of him and all other Blacks" and that "this was just round one with round two coming up." Davis then commented, additionally, that he could not tolerate defendant's "advances" to some of the female employees in the store, to which defendant stood up and responded with more charges of a "conspiracy to get rid of me" and with this statement: "The last [person] that tried to screw me over was in a bad way now." Clunie remained silent during the entire meeting.

Defendant then verbally threatened the lives of both Davis and Clunie and, turning to Butera, stated, "I have no beef with this man." At that point, defendant turned again toward Davis, pulled a gun, and shot Davis in the head at a range of six to twelve inches. Defendant then immediately turned, aimed his gun, and fired three times at Clunie. Butera dropped behind his desk, and almost simultaneously, the defendant fired two shots in Butera's direction, both of which missed.

Clunie died of an acute loss of blood from gunshot wounds which perforated both lungs, the heart, and the aorta. Davis was in a coma for six months, suffered some brain damage, and was blinded from the gunshot wounds he received. Butera was uninjured.

Defendant's theory of defense was self-defense. Defendant claimed that he thought Davis reached for his gun and that he believed he was going to be killed unless he acted first. However, Davis testified that he never carried a handgun and did not even own one. Furthermore, none of the three victims were found to have been armed and the overwhelming weight of the evidence shows that none had made any threatening or furtive gestures prior to being shot.

Defendant was convicted and sentenced to a term of life on the first degree murder charge and two concurrent terms of 12 years on the two attempted first degree murder charges. This appeal followed.

I.

Defendant's first contention is that the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss based upon the alleged violation of defendant's statutory speedy trial rights under § 16-4-103, C.R.S. (1983 Cum.Supp.) and that, if this court holds that § 16-4-107, C.R.S. (1978 Repl.Vol. 8) is applicable instead, the latter statute is constitutionally infirm. We perceive no error in the trial court's denial of defendant's motion and no infirmity in the statute at issue.

A.

On May 11, 1981, defendant's bail was set at $250,000 and, on June 24, 1981, bail was reduced to $60,000 on defendant's motion. On August 18, 1981, defendant's wife visited the defendant in jail, where defendant informed her that he was angry, that he was going to make bail that day, and that he was going to "take care of" her. Mrs. Fields interpreted this as a threat upon her life. Defendant also threatened a police officer who was a potential witness for the People.

Mrs. Fields immediately notified the Denver police of defendant's threat against her, and the police notified the trial court. Also on August 18, 1981, the court reinstated the original $250,000 bond and set the matter for a hearing on the following morning. The court made it clear that the $60,000 bond would be immediately reinstated unless the district attorney presented sufficient evidence to justify a bond increase.

The following morning, August 19, the prosecution filed a verified copy of Mrs. Fields' statement concerning defendant's threatened breaches of the condition of his bond, as required by § 16-4-107, C.R.S. (1978 Repl.Vol. 8). The court then granted defendant's request for a one week continuance in order to prepare for the bond hearing and ordered that the defendant be held pursuant to a warrant issued under § 16-4-107, C.R.S. (1978 Repl.Vol. 8).

On August 21, 1981, the district attorney filed a motion pursuant to § 16-4-107, C.R.S. (1978 Repl.Vol. 8) to increase defendant's bond to $250,000. On August 26, the hearing on defendant's bond increase was held and evidence of defendant's threats against his wife and against the potential police witness was offered. At the conclusion of the evidence and arguments, the trial court increased defendant's bond to $100,000. The stated basis for this bond increase was the dissipation of defendant's family support, since June, to assist defendant in coming to court.

On November 24, 1981, defendant unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the charges against him, arguing that the bond increase had been ordered pursuant to § 16-4-103(2), C.R.S. (1983 Cum.Supp.) and that, therefore, trial in the matter was required within 90 days from August 18, 1981. Trial did not commence until December 7, 1981.

Under the express language of § 16-4-103(2), a bond may be increased "pursuant to this section" only if there has been a judicial finding that the "defendant has committed a class 1, 2, 3, or 4 felony while released pending adjudication of a prior felony charge." Here, there was no such finding by any court and, thus, the bond could not have been increased pursuant to § 16-4-103(2), C.R.S. (1983 Cum.Supp.). Therefore, the ninety-day requirement of that statute is inapplicable to defendant's case.

The only other statute applicable to the bond increase issue herein is § 16-4-107, C.R.S. (1978 Repl.Vol. 8). That statute, unlike § 16-4-103, C.R.S. (1983 Cum.Supp.), does not require defendant to be tried within ninety days of his bond increase. Therefore, the trial court did not err in denying defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to try defendant within ninety days of the court's order to increase bond.

B.

Defendant argues, in the alternative, that § 16-4-107, C.R.S. (1978 Repl.Vol. 8) is violative of equal protection and, thus, unconstitutional. Ordinarily, we are without jurisdiction to address such questions as the facial constitutionality of a statute. See § 13-4-102(1)(b), C.R.S. However, on June 7, 1983, in response to a proposed transfer of jurisdiction because of this issue, our Supreme Court "Ordered that jurisdiction shall be retained by the Court of Appeals." Accordingly, we have jurisdiction to address the issue of the statute's constitutionality. See People v. Wieder, 693 P.2d 1006 (Colo.App.1984); Fisher v. Jorgensen, 674 P.2d 1003 (Colo.App.1983).

The first step in any equal protection analysis is to determine the standard to be used in assessing the validity of the challenged legislation. Since the right to be tried within ninety days of a bond increase is not a "fundamental right," see People v. Curtis, 681 P.2d 504 (Colo.1984), and since the class of pretrial detainees is not a suspect class, the rational basis test must be applied. See Claimants in re Death of Kohler v. Industrial Commission, 671 P.2d 1002 (Colo.App.1983).

Under the rational basis test, the state need only show that the challenged provision is rationally related to a legitimate state interest. Bellendir v. Kezer, 648 P.2d 645 (Colo.1982). Thus, classes may be treated differently, so long as this unequal treatment is based on reasonable differences. Bushnell v. Sapp, 194 Colo. 273, 571 P.2d 1100 (1977).

Having established the appropriate test under which the statute at issue is to be examined, the second step is to set forth the appropriate standard of proof required by constitutional analysis. It is a fundamental principle that every statute is presumed constitutional unless proven to be invalid beyond a reasonable doubt. Turner v. Lyon, 189 Colo. 234, 539 P.2d 1241 (1975). More specifically, under a rational-basis-equal-protection analysis, the statute at issue may be invalidated only if no set of facts can reasonably be conceived to justify it. Millis v. Board of County Commissioners, 626 P.2d 652 (Colo.1981).

Here, it is permissible for the two classes of detainees under § 16-4-103, C.R.S. (1983 Cum.Supp.) and § 16-4-107, C.R.S. (1978 Repl.Vol. 8), respectively, to be treated differently because their unequal treatment is based on reasonable differences between the two classes. That is, the detainees under the two statutes are not similarly situated since the former statute contemplates detainees who have been...

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