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State v. Jordan

Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc

May 15, 2014

The State of Washington, Respondent ,
v.
Erick Deshum Jordan, Petitioner

Argued September 10, 2013.

Appeal from King County Superior Court. 07-1-05903-9. Honorable Dean Scott Lum.

Susan F. Wilk and Gregory C. Link (of Washington Appellate Project ), for petitioner.

Daniel T. Satterberg, Prosecuting Attorney, and Donna L. Wise, Deputy, for respondent.

AUTHOR: Justice Debra L. Stephens. WE CONCUR: Chief Justice Barbara A. Madsen, Justice Charles W. Johnson, Justice Susan Owens, Justice Mary E. Fairhurst, Justice Charles K. Wiggins, Justice Steven C. Gonzá lez, Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud, James M. Johnson, Justice Pro Tem.

OPINION

Page 182

[180 Wn.2d 458] Stephens, J. --

¶ 1 Erick Jordan asks this court to reverse a Court of Appeals decision affirming his convictions and sentence for second degree murder with a firearm enhancement and first degree unlawful possession of a firearm. At issue is whether differences between self-defense standards in Washington and Texas bar a sentencing court from finding that manslaughter convictions in these states are legally comparable. We hold they do not and affirm the lower court.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶ 2 On July 13, 2007, Jordan fatally shot Maurice Jackson in front of two civilian witnesses and two police officers. [180 Wn.2d 459] Report of Proceedings (RP) (June 10, 2008) at 35-37; Clerk's Papers (CP) at 11. He fled from the scene but was apprehended sometime later when he broke into the home of an elderly woman in order to escape from the police. 10 Verbatim Report of Proceedings (VRP) (June 18, 2008) at 86, 97, 102, 105-06. When apprehended, Jordan was still carrying the .38 caliber revolver he used to kill Jackson. RP (June 16, 2008) at 88; 12 RP (June 23, 2008) at 344. The State charged Jordan with murder in the second degree with a firearm enhancement as well as unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree. CP at 11-13. A jury found him guilty of both charges. CP at 14-16.

Page 183

¶ 3 At sentencing, the State proved that Jordan had previously been convicted of voluntary manslaughter in Texas in 1992. RP Sentencing (Jan. 16, 2009) at 15-17, 19. Jordan, however, objected to the inclusion of the Texas conviction in his offender score, arguing that his prior Texas offense was not legally comparable to any Washington offense because Washington and Texas have different standards for self-defense. Id. at 8. The trial court rejected this argument, finding voluntary manslaughter in Texas to be legally comparable to second degree murder in Washington. Id. at 19-20. Inclusion of the Texas conviction increased Jordan's offender score to eight, [1] and the trial court sentenced him accordingly to a standard-range sentence of 417 months. CP at 155, 169-72. Jordan appealed his sentence, arguing, inter alia, that his Texas conviction was not legally comparable to any Washington offense and that its inclusion in his offender score calculation violated his due process rights. Br. of Appellant at 13-29.

¶ 4 The Court of Appeals agreed with Jordan that his Texas conviction for voluntary manslaughter was not comparable to Washington's second degree murder because a [180 Wn.2d 460] person could be convicted of voluntary manslaughter in Texas without intentionally causing the death--a necessary element of second degree murder in Washington. State v. Jordan, No. 63016-4-I, slip op. (unpublished portion) at 7 (Wash. Ct. App. Nov. 1, 2010). The court, nonetheless, upheld the trial court's offender score calculation because voluntary manslaughter in Texas is legally comparable to first degree manslaughter in Washington, which scores the same points as second degree murder under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1981 (SRA), chapter 9.94A RCW. Id. at 9 n.33 (unpublished portion). Jordan petitioned this court for review, insisting the Court of Appeals' comparability analysis was flawed because it failed to appreciate the differences between self-defense in Washington and Texas. According to Jordan, a Texas offense is never comparable to any Washington ...


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