FROM THE JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 35CR-15-108-2]
HONORABLE ROBERT H. WYATT, JR., JUDGE DISMISSED.
Law Office, by: Gary W. Potts, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Adam Jackson, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
J. GLADWIN, Judge.
Justin Cartwright appeals the April 27, 2016 sentencing
orders of the Jefferson County Circuit Court pursuant to
which he was sentenced to a total of 696 months in the
Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC). He argues that the
trial court abused its discretion in failing to follow the
sentencing mandates of Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 25
(2016). We dismiss.
was charged in case no. CR-2015-103 with two counts of
aggravated robbery, possession of a firearm by certain
persons, and theft by receiving. In case no., CR-2015-108, he
was charged with escape and second-degree battery.
Negotiations led to a plea agreement providing that if
appellant entered a plea of guilty to all charges, the State
would recommend that he be sentenced to twenty years in the
ADC on all counts in the first case with another six years
concurrent on the charge of second-degree battery in the
second case. These would be served concurrently with the ADC
sentence appellant was then serving from a prior conviction.
In addition, appellant would be required to testify
truthfully against codefendant Corderro Foster at
Foster's jury trial that was scheduled to take place by
February 10, 2016.
February 5, 2016, appellant entered guilty pleas in the
above-described cases, and in open court with counsel present
and participating, appellant provided a factual basis for the
charges and admitted guilt to the trial court. The trial
court found the plea to be knowing and voluntary and also
found a factual basis for the plea. The trial court
acknowledged appellant's counsel's explanation that
appellant was required to testify truthfully against Foster
as part of the plea agreement and asked appellant if he was
aware of his obligations in order to get his "guaranteed
sentence." Appellant responded in the affirmative. The
trial court then accepted appellant's guilty plea but
deferred sentencing until "at least February 10th,
" presumably subsequent to the conclusion of
Foster's jury trial.
March 4, 2016, at the deferred sentencing proceeding, the
State explained to the trial court that appellant's
testimony at Foster's trial was the complete opposite of
what his counsel had previously led the State to expect.
Appellant testified that another individual on the evidence
videos had assisted him in the robberies rather than Foster.
As a result, the State moved to withdraw its plea offer.
Although defense counsel argued that appellant testified
truthfully, the trial court allowed the State to withdraw its
sentencing recommendation, stating,
I did not accept any type of recommendation from the State.
All I accepted was the guilty plea from [appellant] based on
what [appellant] did during the aggravated robbery and during
the escape. So, [appellant] has been found guilty by the
Court. And now the State is withdrawing their recommendation.
So, [appellant] will be sentenced by the Court without a
recommendation from the State. Do you have anything you want
me to consider before I pronounce sentence?
attorney responded that appellant admitted his involvement
and requested that appellant receive the same sentence that
Foster received at trial. Appellant made no attempt to
withdraw his guilty plea.
trial court sentenced appellant to 600 months in the ADC on
each count of aggravated robbery, 180 months for possession
of a firearm, and 96 months for theft by receiving, all set
to run concurrently, in case no. CR 2015-103. In case no. CR
2015-108, the trial court sentenced appellant to 300 months
for escape and 96 months for second-degree battery, running
concurrent to each other but consecutive to case no. CR
2015-103. All sentences would be consecutive to the sentence
that appellant was already serving in the ADC.
decision to allow alternative sentencing is reviewed for an
abuse of discretion. Steele v. State, 2014 Ark.App.
257, 434 S.W.3d 424. This standard is a high threshold and
requires that a trial court act improvidently, thoughtlessly,
or without due consideration. Id.
argues that the trial court abused its discretion in failing
to follow the sentencing mandates of Arkansas Rule of
Criminal Procedure 25. Specifically, appellant argues that
the sentencing orders should be reversed and remanded for
resentencing or dismissed because the trial court was in
violation of Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 25.3(c),
which sets forth the responsibilities of the trial judge
concerning plea agreements:
If the parties have not sought the concurrence of the trial
judge in a plea agreement or if the judge has declined to
indicate whether he will concur in the agreement, he shall
advise the defendant in open ...