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State v. Douangdala

January 21, 1997

STATE OF WASHINGTON, RESPONDENT,
v.
SOONTHAI DOUANGDALA, B.D. 07-03-79 APPELLANT.



Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 95-8-01211-8. Date filed: 05/23/95.

PER CURIAM. Soonthai Douangdala was charged in juvenile court with one count of robbery in the first degree in violation of RCW 9A.56.200(1)(c) and 9A.56.190. The charge stemmed from an incident occurring on June 29, 1994, in which Douangdala, along with another, allegedly used force to steal a purse from a woman and inflicted bodily injury on her during the encounter. After an adjudicatory hearing, the juvenile court entered written findings and Conclusions in which it concluded that Douangdala was "guilty of Robbery in the First Degree contrary to RCW 9A.56.200(1)(a)(b) and 9A.56.190, as charged in Count I of the information." After finding manifest inJustice, the court imposed a Disposition of 156 weeks, outside the standard range of 103 to 129. Douangdala has appealed to this court, contending, among other things, that he was found guilty of uncharged alternative means of committing first degree robbery. Because these means of committing first degree robbery were never charged in the information, he argues that the robbery charge against him must be dismissed. We disagree. Because the other issues raised on appeal regarding the propriety of the 156-week manifest inJustice Disposition also lack merit, we affirm.

FACTS

On the afternoon of June 29, 1994, M.P. was walking home from a grocery store in Seattle when Douangdala and another youth approached her, grabbed her purse, and fled from the scene. Douangdala was later apprehended and charged with one count of first degree robbery.

At Douangdala's fact finding hearing, M.P. positively identified him as being one of the youths who robbed her. She testified he knocked a bag of groceries out of her hand, hit her in the face with a closed fist knocking her to the ground, wrenched the purse she was carrying from her grasp, and ran off. M.P. testified she suffered a dislocated shoulder, a fractured wrist, and bruising to her face and body as a result of the robbery. At the Conclusion of the hearing, the court found Douangdala guilty of first degree robbery.

At the Disposition hearing, the probation officer reported that Douangdala had an extensive criminal history including nine felony convictions and four other misdemeanors. The probation officer recommended a standard range Disposition, but acknowledged that several aggravating factors were present in the case including that the victim was an elderly woman and that she sustained bodily injury during the robbery. The probation officer emphasized the need for Douangdala to be placed in a "secured environment." The prosecutor urged a manifest inJustice of 156 weeks. The prosecutor listed a large number of aggravating factors including that the victim of the robbery was 78 or 79 years of age and "quite frail" and that her injuries included a "dislocated shoulder, a fractured wrist, and not minor cuts and bruises, but substantial bruising. The whole side of her face was black and blue." Defense counsel began his remarks by stating that "I can't argue very much against what the Prosecutor has asserted as grounds for a Manifest InJustice." Defense counsel pointed out his client's extensive criminal history, but noted that they were crimes against property, not against people. While acknowledging that his client "is a high risk to offend", counsel argued that the threat to community safety was not significant because the risk "is as a thief." Defense counsel concluded his remarks by asking the court to follow the recommendations of the probation officer and impose a standard range sentence. The court agreed with the prosecutor and imposed a manifest inJustice Disposition of 156 weeks. The court orally summarized its reasons as follows:

The aggravating factors, a number of them that are set forth in the Prosecutor's brief are indeed uncontested, as well they should be.

In the commission of the offense or in the flight therefrom, [Douangdala] inflicted serious bodily injury. The victim was particularly vulnerable. [Douangdala] has failed to comply with conditions of a recent Dispositional Order. And he has a recent criminal history. And [Douangdala] is a high risk to reoffend. I think all of those are clearly apparent to [Douangdala] and require the imposition of a sentence beyond the standard range. This appeal followed.

DECISION

RCW 9A.56.200(1) provides:

A person is guilty of robbery in the first degree if in the commission of a robbery or of immediate flight therefrom, he:

(a) Is armed with a deadly weapon; or (b) Displays what appears to be a firearm or other deadly weapon; or (c) Inflicts bodily injury.

Douangdala contends that the court improperly relied upon subsections (a) and (b) of the statute, which he was not charged with, to find him guilty. In support of this argument, he relies solely on the following written Conclusion of law entered by the court:

The respondent is guilty of Robbery in the First Degree contrary to RCW 9A.56.200(1)(a)(b) and 9A.56.190, as charged in Count I of the information. The brief reference in that Conclusion of law to subsections (a) and (b) of the first degree robbery statute does suggest that the court found Douangdala guilty of first degree robbery by the alternative means of either being armed with a deadly weapon (RCW 9A.56.200(1)(a)) or displaying what appears to be a firearm or other deadly weapon (RCW 9A.56.200(1)(b)). But the court's written findings address only subsection (c), the section under which Douangdala was originally charged. The court found that "[M.P.] received bodily injury in this robbery. She suffered a dislocated shoulder, a fractured wrist, and bruising to her face and body." Moreover, another Conclusion of law expressly states that "the court is satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that [Douangdala] committed the offense as charged in the information." As noted previously, Douangdala was charged under subsection (c) of the statute. The written findings and Conclusions are thus ambiguous as to which of the three subsections of RCW 9A.56.200(1) the court relied on to find Douangdala guilty of first degree robbery.

When there is an ambiguity in the court's written findings, those findings may be supplemented by the trial court's oral decision or other statements in the record. In re LaBelle, 107 Wash. 2d 196, 219, 728 P.2d 138 (1986). The juvenile court's oral decision in this case makes clear that the court relied solely on the fact that M.P. was physically injured in deciding Douangdala's guilt. *fn1 Because the court's adjudication of guilt was based entirely on a charged means of committing first degree robbery, the obvious ...


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