The Michigan State Court of Appeals ruled recently that the Boyne City woman convicted of assault with intent to murder will receive a re-sentencing hearing.
Kaylee Rose Booth was originally sentenced in Charlevoix Circuit Court to serve between 12-25 years in prison.
According to court documents, Booth was charged with assault with intent to murder for stabbing a woman in the thigh, arm, and chest with a kitchen knife that had a six-inch blade.
The incident occurred outside an apartment that Booth shared with her boyfriend, whom she believed the victim was having an affair with.
There were multiple eye-witnesses to the stabbing, and Booth admitted she stabbed the victim multiple times but argued she was suffering from temporary insanity and did not have an intent to kill.
The jury rejected Booth’s insanity defense and convicted her of assault with intent to murder.
In their Feb. 26 opinion, appeals court justices stated that the original trial judge had retired and the new judge denied Booth’s request for resentencing.
“In relevant part, this court concluded that the trial court had improperly scored Offense Variables (OV) 4, 6, and 9 by engaging in judicial fact-finding, and therefore remanded ‘for further proceedings in accordance with Lockridge.’ In the interim, the original trial judge retired. On remand, defendant’s appointed counsel filed a ‘Request for Resentencing Memorandum’ arguing that his proper guidelines range should have been 81 to 135 months, but the original judge’s fact-finding had improperly increased his guidelines range to 108 to 180 months,” the appeals justices state in their opinion. “He asserted that the original judge would have imposed a much lower sentence if not bound by the guidelines.”
They further stated, “The prosecutor responded that defendant’s argument was premised on an erroneous claim that the trial judge had mis-scored the sentencing guidelines.”
According to court documents, a sentence at the bottom of the range would suggest that the original judge felt constrained by the guidelines but in fact the original judge had indicated that the offense and offender did not support a sentence at the either the high or low end of the guidelines range.
After reviewing the relevant materials, the successor judge concluded that, “[If the original judge] was inclined to impose a minimum sentence of less than the 108 months calculated to be the minimum of the computed guidelines range, but for being constrained by the mandatory guidelines, logically, he would likely have imposed a minimum sentence at or near 108 months. Instead, [the judge] sentenced this defendant to a minimum sentence of 144 months, 36 months in excess of the minimum calculated guidelines range.”
The trial judge explained at the sentencing hearing that, in his view, the facts and circumstances warranted neither a sentence at the high end nor the low end of the minimum guidelines range.
Although defendant was represented by counsel on remand, defendant was not allowed to be physically present and address the replacement judge, who had not conducted the jury trial or the original sentencing.
According to the appeals court justices, when a newly assigned judge handles a Crosby remand without ever encountering the defendant, both the personal nature of sentencing and perceptions of fairness, integrity, and public reputation of the judicial proceeding are called into question.
“We conclude that, when the original sentencing judge is unavailable, in addition to following the other Crosby remand requirements, the assigned judge must allow the defendant an opportunity to appear before the court and be heard before the judge can decide whether he or she would resentence the defendant,” the justices stated…. “It is unambiguous from the trial court’s opinion on remand that the trial court violated the requirements of Howard by attempting to discern what the original judge would have done, rather than evaluating ‘what sentence he or she would have imposed.’ However, it should be noted that when the trial court issued its opinion in this case, Howard had not yet been issued as precedent for the trial court to follow; thus, it had no way of realizing this procedural mishap.”
Additionally, nothing in the record suggests that defendant waived the right to appear and be heard before the trial court, meaning the defendant indeed had a right to such opportunity prior to determining whether to resentence her.
The appeals court justices stated that they must therefore remand for another Crosby proceeding at which Booth must be allowed to be present, if she so wishes, and to address the court.
“The prosecutor maintains that this case can be distinguished from Howard because the defendant in that case was not represented by counsel and thus had no one to represent his interests, whereas defendant in this case had appointed counsel who vigorously advocated for her and continues to do so,” justices stated. “However, the representation of counsel only addresses the first issue decided by this court in Howard. This court also found error requiring relief based on the fact that a replacement judge, who had not overseen the original case and was forced to work from a ‘cold record,’ was conducting the Crosby remand proceedings.”
They added, “This concern arose independent of the provision of counsel and addressed ‘perceptions of fairness, integrity, and public reputation of the judicial proceeding.’”
The case has been remanded for further proceedings.