State v. Wilson

Citation421 P.3d 742
Decision Date06 July 2018
Docket NumberNo. 115,435,115,435
Parties STATE of Kansas, Appellee, v. Matthew D. WILSON, Appellant.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Kansas

421 P.3d 742

STATE of Kansas, Appellee,
Matthew D. WILSON, Appellant.

No. 115,435

Supreme Court of Kansas.

Opinion filed July 6, 2018.

Carl F.A. Maughan, of Maughan Law Group LC, of Wichita, argued the cause and was on the brief for appellant.

Barry R. Wilkerson, county attorney, argued the cause, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, was with him on the brief for appellee.

The opinion of the court was delivered by Stegall, J.:

One night, Matthew Wilson broke into an apartment and began shooting the occupants. Inside the apartment, Joel Solano awoke, grabbed a gun, and hid in his room. Michael Lowery fled from Wilson into Solano's room. Mistaking Lowery for the shooter, Solano shot Lowery dead. Wilson later pled no contest to premeditated murder for Lowery's death, and we affirmed his sentence on direct appeal.

Wilson now argues the district court erred when it summarily denied his postsentence plea withdrawal motion. On appeal, Wilson claims there was an insufficient factual basis to support the elements of premeditated murder because he did not actually kill Lowery—Solano did. Wilson makes the related claim that if his first argument is correct, his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to recognize this fact and advise him accordingly. Finally, Wilson suggests that because the lower court essentially ignored these arguments when Wilson asserted them pro se below, a remand would be appropriate if the record is insufficient to permit us to conduct a meaningful review.

We hold Wilson proximately caused Lowery's death by attacking those in the apartment, leading to Solano's foreseeable defensive response. Wilson—as an active shooter—created a deadly situation for the apartment's occupants, and Solano's shot was not an extraordinary intervening event that became the sole cause of Lowery's death. Because a factual basis supported

421 P.3d 745

the plea and a remand is unnecessary, we affirm.


The underlying facts are not disputed. As this court recited in Wilson's first appeal:

"Dustin Ferguson and Joel Solano lived in an apartment directly across the hall from Wilson. Sometime around 2 a.m. on April 7, 2013, Ferguson returned to the apartment with Michael Lowery, Alexya Mailea, and Christine Kim after a night out in Aggieville. Around 4 a.m., Ferguson and his three guests opened the door to leave. They were met in the hallway by Wilson who immediately started shooting at them with a handgun.

"Ferguson, Mailea, and Kim were struck by bullets, and Ferguson pulled Mailea and Lowery back into the apartment while Kim fled down a flight of stairs. Wilson followed Kim and told her he was not going to kill her and that he was only ‘there for the guys.’ Wilson then returned to the apartment, shot his way through the locked front door, and entered.

"In the meantime, Lowery had run into Solano's bedroom where Solano had been sleeping with his fiancée and young daughter. Solano was awakened by the gunshots and retrieved his own handgun. Solano then shot Lowery when he came into the bedroom, mistaking him for an intruder.

"Ferguson escaped by jumping out of his bedroom window. He directed Mailea to follow him, but she was still in Ferguson's room when Wilson returned. As with Kim, Wilson assured Mailea that he was not going to kill her and that he was only ‘there for the boys.’ He also told her he was ‘doing what he was doing’ because Ferguson and Solano had too many loud parties in their apartment and that ‘people deserved to get a good night's sleep.’ Wilson then went to Solano's bedroom to look for the others.

"Wilson failed to enter Solano's bedroom because the door was blocked by Lowery's prone body. He ordered Solano to open the door and threatened to shoot his way into the room if Solano did not comply. Solano had heard Wilson tell Mailea he was ‘there for the boys,’ so he remained quiet, hoping Wilson would think no one was there. Wilson eventually gave up and left the apartment. Police took him into custody outside the building a few minutes later.

"Lowery died as a result of his gunshot wounds, while Ferguson, Mailea, and Kim were all hospitalized with serious injuries. Wilson pled no contest to one count of first-degree premeditated murder for Lowery's death, two counts of attempted first-degree premeditated murder regarding Ferguson and Solano, and two counts of aggravated battery on Mailea and Kim." State v. Wilson , 301 Kan. 403, 403-04, 343 P.3d 102 (2015).

At first, the State charged Wilson with one count of first-degree murder under alternative theories of premeditated and felony murder for Lowery's death; four counts of attempted premeditated murder for the attack against Ferguson, Kim, Mailea, and Solano; and one count of aggravated burglary. The State later filed an amended information, and the parties entered into a plea agreement. Wilson pled no contest to the charges as amended: one count of premeditated murder, two counts of attempted premeditated murder, and two counts of aggravated battery. The State agreed to dismiss the remaining charges.

The Riley County District Court held a plea hearing the next day. Wilson confirmed that he authorized and understood the plea agreement. The court walked through the plea colloquy, and Wilson stated that he understood the rights he was waiving and the penalties he could receive; his lawyer had explained the elements the State had to prove and what defenses were available; and he was satisfied with his lawyer. When the court asked about the factual basis for the plea, the State replied:

"It would be the State's proffer of evidence that Mr. Wilson told Alexya Mailea that he did not want to hurt her and was there for the boys. Wilson told Mailea the reason he was doing this was because of too many loud parties in the apartment. Wilson then told her ... that he knew there were other subjects in the other bedroom and left for the other bedroom,
421 P.3d 746
which was Solano's. Alexya Mailea then jumped out of the window.

"Michael Lowery had entered Solano's bedroom. Wilson attempted to enter the bedroom at some point during the shooting. Wilson had shot his way into the apartment. Solano, who was in the bedroom with Erica Campos and the couple's young child, had told Erica Campos to take the child and get in the closet, and he retrieved a handgun and had taken a position after hearing what he described as six or seven shots from inside the apartment. Solano also heard shooter—the defendant, Matthew Wilson—saying that he was there for the guys. In the chaos that followed the shooting in the hallway and the shots the defendant fired at Solano's apartment door, Michael Lowery was struck by a bullet twice and killed.

"The State's theory of premeditation was based upon ... Mr. Wilson's statement that he was there to kill the guys—or the boys—to Alexya Mailea and Christine Kim when he had contact with them. Unfortunately ... Michael Lowery was killed inside the apartment. Wilson also made statements heard by Solano that he was there for the guys."

Defense counsel did not object to the facts proffered by the State. The court determined a factual basis existed for Wilson's no contest pleas and found him guilty on all counts.

At sentencing, the State clarified the factual basis of Wilson's pleas, stating:

"Your Honor, I think there have been some questions on clarification on the State's theory in this case. ... [T]he bullet that caused the fatal injury to Mr. Lowery was not fired from Mr. Wilson's gun. Mr. Lowery was killed when he entered Mr. Solano's room and Mr. Solano, being in the dark with a young lady and a daughter—a very young daughter—in the closet, fired after hearing numerous shots. The theory the State proceeded under—we looked at the felony murder as well as the first-degree premeditated murder—was that the defendant, Matthew Wilson, after shooting Alexya Mailea, Christine Kim, and Dustin Ferguson, followed Christine Kim down the stairwell, where he told her he was not going to kill her, he was there for the guys. Mr. Wilson then went back upstairs and shot his way into ... the apartment. His ... words and actions and shooting up a locked door, State's opinion, formed the premeditation to commit murder, once he was in that apartment where the guys were located."

Defense counsel did not contest the revised facts. He told the court, "[M]y client and I conducted, discussed, and considered the facts and circumstances in this case, and Mr. Wilson elected to proceed with a no contest plea, and he entered into a plea agreement with the State, believing it was in his best interest to do so."

The court acknowledged the clarification and found a factual basis still existed for Wilson's first-degree murder plea. The court sentenced Wilson to life imprisonment for premeditated murder and a consecutive 310 months' imprisonment for the remaining crimes. It also imposed lifetime parole. We subsequently rejected Wilson's challenge to his consecutive sentences on direct appeal. Wilson , 301 Kan. at 406-07, 343 P.3d 102.

In 2015, Wilson timely moved pro se to withdraw his no contest pleas. Though Wilson alleged many errors, only two are relevant to this appeal: (1) a factual basis did not exist for his premeditated murder plea because he did not shoot Lowery; and (2) his trial counsel was ineffective because he failed to inform Wilson that the...

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