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State v. Hendrix

May 27, 1997


Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 94-1-06531-5. Date filed: 05/30/95. Judge signing: Hon. Patricia H. Aitken.

Authored by Ronald E. Cox. Concurring: Walter E. Webster, C. Kenneth Grosse.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cox

COX, J. -- Seven-year-old Angelica Robinson died from a bullet that struck her while she lay sleeping next to her mother. Royce Hendrix was convicted of first degree murder for the shooting. He claims that the juvenile court improperly declined to exercise jurisdiction, that the trial court erroneously admitted his statement to the police, and that the trial court erred by refusing to admit expert testimony regarding his mental abilities. We affirm.

One night in August 1994, Hendrix and a companion fired several shots into a house where Tina Robinson and her daughter Angelica were sleeping. After hearing the shots, Robinson found that Angelica was bleeding from the back of her head and neck. She called 911. An emergency team took Angelica to Harborview Medical Center, where she died early the next morning.

On the evening following the day of Angelica's death, officers pursued five teenagers in a car the officers identified as stolen. After the teenagers parked the car, the officers pursued Hendrix on foot, took him into custody, and later transported him to the homicide unit for interrogation.

The State charged Hendrix, a juvenile, with the murder of Angelica Robinson. The prosecutor asked the juvenile court to decline jurisdiction. The court granted the State's motion and denied a motion for reconsideration.

Prior to trial, the court found in a CrR 3.5 hearing that Hendrix had waived his Miranda *fn1 rights prior to making his statement to the police. The statement was admitted at trial.

At trial, the State proffered evidence to show that Hendrix and a companion went to the house where the shooting took place in order to shoot the house up to avenge a theft of drugs. They both fired shots into the house. One shot struck and killed Angelica Robinson.

The defense focused on Hendrix's mental state at the time of the killing. In closing, his attorney argued that Hendrix was only acting recklessly, not with extreme indifference to human life. At several points during the trial, the trial court excluded testimony of Dr. Kenneth Muscatel regarding Hendrix's mental abilities. Defense counsel contended that this testimony would rebut the State's evidence that Hendrix acted with extreme indifference.

The jury found Hendrix guilty as charged. The trial court sentenced him to 320 months in prison.


Decline Hearing

Under RCW 13.40.110(2):

The court after a decline hearing may order the case transferred for adult criminal prosecution upon a finding that the declination would be in the best interest of the juvenile or the public. The court shall consider the relevant reports, facts, opinions, and arguments presented by the parties and their counsel.

We will reverse a decline order only where the trial court has exercised its discretion on a ground, or to an extent, clearly untenable or manifestly unreasonable. *fn2 But the trial court's discretion is not unfettered. The court is required to consider the eight Kent factors. *fn3

They include:

(1) the seriousness of the alleged offense and whether the protection of the community requires declination; (2) whether the offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated or willful manner; (3) whether the offense was against persons or property; (4) the prosecutive merit of the complaint; (5) the desirability of trial and Disposition of the entire case in one court, where the defendant's alleged accomplices are adults; (6)

the sophistication and maturity of the juvenile; (7) the juvenile's criminal history; and (8) the prospects for adequate protection of the public and rehabilitation of the juvenile through services available in the juvenile system. *fn4

All eight factors need not be proven. Rather, they are a guide for the trial court's inquiry. *fn5

Hendrix first argues that the preprinted form on which the trial court memorialized its findings of fact does not provide a meaningful record for this court to review. He further argues that the oral findings do not afford a sufficient basis for the decline decision. We disagree.

RCW 13.40.110(3) requires a court at a declination hearing to "set forth in writing its finding which shall be supported by relevant facts and opinions produced at the hearing." Standardized finding of fact forms do ...

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