of Appeals No. A-11976 Trial Court No. 3AN-12-11922 CR
from the Superior Court, Third Judicial District, Anchorage,
Warren W. Matthews and Michael L. Wolverton, Judges.
Berens, Assistant Public Advocate, and Richard Allen, Public
Advocate, Anchorage, for the Appellant.
R. Simel, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal
Appeals, Anchorage, and James E. Cantor, Acting Attorney
General, Juneau, for the Appellee.
Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, and Allard and Wollenberg,
Lynn Stoner, a felony probationer, absconded from a halfway
house. Stoner had been placed there by the Department of
Corrections while he awaited sentencing for violating his
Alaska law, a felony defendant who absconds from official
detention is guilty of a class B felony - second-degree
escape. But the residents' handbook at Stoner's
halfway house erroneously stated that felony defendants who
absconded from the facility would be guilty of "unlawful
evasion". Stoner was aware (apparently, from previous
experience, and perhaps from conversations with other
residents of the halfway house) that the crime of
"unlawful evasion" was only a misdemeanor.
According to Stoner, he decided that it was worth the risk to
abscond from the halfway house, since he believed that the
penalty was no more than one year in prison.
Stoner was indicted for second-degree escape, he asked the
superior court to dismiss this felony charge. Stoner argued
that the halfway house handbook was at least partially
responsible for misleading him into thinking that his crime
was only a misdemeanor. Stoner further argued that because
the halfway house was operating under a contract with the
Department of Corrections, any misleading information in the
handbook should be attributed to the State of Alaska itself.
Thus, Stoner concluded, even though he absconded from the
halfway house, it was unfair for the State of Alaska to
prosecute him for a felony.
superior court denied Stoner's motion to dismiss the
indictment, and Stoner was ultimately convicted of
now appeals his conviction, renewing his argument that it is
unfair to convict him of felony escape when the information
in the halfway house handbook was at least partially
responsible for leading him to believe that his crime would
only be a misdemeanor.
reasons explained in this opinion, we affirm Stoner's
November 2012, Cory Lynn Stoner was facing petitions to
revoke his probation in two felony cases. The superior court
had already found that Stoner violated his probation, and he
was awaiting sentencing for these violations.
his sentencing, the Department of Corrections placed Stoner
at a halfway house - the Parkview Center. The Parkview Center
was owned and operated by a private company, under contract
with the Department of Corrections.
week after Stoner was transferred to the Parkview Center, the
staff discovered a mobile phone and a telephone card hidden
under his mattress. This was a violation of the Center's
rules, and Stoner knew that he would be sent back to jail. So
instead, Stoner fled.
was apprehended about three months later, and he was charged
with second-degree escape under AS 11.56.310(a)(1)(B). This
statute makes it a class B felony to unlawfully
"remove oneself from ... official detention for a
asked the superior court to dismiss this felony charge on the
ground that the Parkview staff misled him as to the
seriousness of the crime he would commit if he absconded from
the Parkview Center.
argument was based on the fact that, during his orientation
session at the Parkview Center, he was given a 52-page
residents' handbook. One passage in this handbook warned
Parkview Center residents that they were not allowed to leave
the Center without authorization. The handbook then
mistakenly stated that residents who were in custody for a
felony would be charged with "unlawful evasion"
under AS 11.56.340 if they left the halfway house without
fact, AS 11.56.340 does not apply to felony prisoners who
abscond from a halfway house. Instead, this statute applies
to misdemeanor prisoners - persons "charged with or
convicted of a misdemeanor"-who fail to return to
official detention after they have been granted a