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Daniels v. State

Court of Appeals of Alaska

December 12, 2014

TEX D. DANIELS II, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF ALASKA, Appellee

Page 1028

Appeal from the Superior Court, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, Philip R. Volland, Judge. Trial Court No. 3AN-12-771 CR.

Kelly R. Taylor, Assistant Public Defender, and Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Appellant.

Ann B. Black, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, and Michael C. Geraghty, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.

Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, Allard, Judge, and Hanley, District Court Judge.[*]

OPINION

Page 1029

ALLARD, Judge.

Tex D. Daniels II pleaded guilty to one consolidated count of first-degree assault[1] and one count of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol[2] for striking two pedestrians while driving under the influence. At sentencing, Daniels asked the court to refer his case to the statewide three-judge sentencing panel because of his extraordinary potential for rehabilitation and his exemplary post-offense conduct. He also argued that referral to the three-judge panel was warranted because a sentence within the presumptive range would be manifestly unjust in his case.

The superior court declined to refer Daniels's case to the three-judge panel, and Daniels now appeals that decision. We affirm the superior court's judgment in most respects. However, we conclude that additional clarification is needed regarding the judge's ruling that referral to the three-judge panel was not warranted based on the non-statutory mitigating factor of extraordinary potential for rehabilitation. We therefore remand the case for clarification of this issue.

Facts and proceedings

In the early morning hours of New Year's Day, 2012, twenty-one-year-old Tex. Daniels lost control of his truck while speeding in a residential area of Anchorage. He struck two pedestrians who were walking on the sidewalk. He then attempted to flee the scene but hit a retaining wall and damaged his truck too much to continue driving. Witnesses held Daniels at the scene until the police arrived and arrested him. A blood test administered shortly after the collision showed a blood alcohol content of .226 percent, almost three times the legal limit.[3]

The pedestrians Daniels hit were a young couple, Clayton Wilbanks and Ashley Brotherton, who had recently moved to Alaska. Wilbanks suffered a lacerated spleen and a mild traumatic brain injury, but he made a full physical recovery. Brotherton was much more seriously injured -- she suffered a fractured skull, neck, and hip, as well as a traumatic brain injury that required a month of hospitalization. At the time of sentencing, she continued to suffer severe nerve pain and fatigue that limited her ability to work.

Daniels was charged with two counts of first-degree assault, driving under the influence, and failure to render assistance at the scene of an accident. These charges were resolved in a plea agreement in which Daniels pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and one consolidated count of first-degree assault for knowingly engaging in conduct that resulted in serious physical injury under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.[4] Daniels's sentencing was left open.

As a first felony offender, Daniels faced a presumptive range of 7 to 11 years for the first-degree assault conviction. Daniels asked the court to refer his case to the statewide three-judge sentencing panel based on the non-statutory mitigating factors of extraordinary potential for rehabilitation and exemplary post-offense conduct. He also argued that referral to the three-judge panel ...


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