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State v. Murray

Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc

May 17, 2018

STATE OF WASHINGTON, Respondent,
v.
MICHAEL DAVID MURRAY, Petitioner.

          WIGGINS, J.

         Michael David Murray appeals his exceptional sentence for three counts of indecent exposure. His appeal presents two questions. First, we must decide whether the sexual motivation aggravator, RCW 9.94A.535(3)(f), can apply to the crime of indecent exposure, RCW 9A.88.010. We hold that because indecent exposure lacks an inherent sexual motive, the sexual motivation aggravator may apply. Second, we must decide whether the rapid recidivism aggravator, RCW 9.94A.535(3)(f), was void for vagueness as applied to Murray. Because a reasonable person would not have to guess that reoffending 16 days after being released from jail is "shortly after, " we hold that the rapid recidivism aggravator was not void for vagueness as applied to Murray. Consequently, we affirm the Court of Appeals.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         I. Factual History

         In early 2015, Murray was released from King County jail. Sixteen days after being released, Murray exposed his penis in public to four different women on three separate occasions, touching himself in two of the incidences. First, Murray exposed his penis and masturbated in front of S.L. in a retirement home where she worked. The next day, Murray exposed his penis to C.Y. while alone in an elevator with her. Four days later, Murray exposed his penis and masturbated in front of L.S. while she was cutting K.N.'s hair.

         II. Procedural History

         The State charged Murray with three counts of indecent exposure. Because of a previous conviction for indecent liberties, Murray's three counts of indecent exposure were elevated from a misdemeanor to a class C felony. RCW 9A.88.010(2)(c). Additionally, the State alleged two aggravating factors: that the offenses were sexually motivated and that the offenses were committed shortly after Murray's release from jail (i.e., rapid recidivism).

         At trial, the State presented the testimony of three previous victims to whom Murray had exposed his penis; he had also masturbated during two of these previous incidents. These testimonies were used for the purpose of proving motive, intent, and absence of mistake or accident. In response, Murray presented a defense of diminished capacity. He called an expert to testify that he lacked inhibitive control because of a previous brain injury.

         The jury rejected Murray's defense and found Murray guilty on all three counts of indecent exposure. The jury also found that the sexual motivation and rapid recidivism aggravators were proved beyond a reasonable doubt. As a result, the trial court imposed an exceptional sentence of 36 months' imprisonment. Murray appealed his conviction to Division One of the Court of Appeals.

         On appeal, Murray challenged his exceptional sentence, arguing that it was clearly excessive because of his brain injury. He also argued that the sexual motivation aggravator and rapid recidivism aggravator did not apply. Alternatively, he argued that the rapid recidivism aggravator was void for vagueness under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Court of Appeals rejected all of these arguments and affirmed Murray's conviction and sentence. State v. Murray, No. 74422-4-1, slip op. at 1, 14 (Wash.Ct.App. Mar. 6, 2017) (unpublished), https://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/ pdf/744224.pdf.

         Murray appealed the Court of Appeals decision to this court. We granted review on two issues: (1) whether the sexual motivation aggravator can apply to indecent exposure and (2) whether the rapid recidivism aggravator is unconstitutionally vague.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         We review matters of statutory interpretation de novo. State v. Armendariz, 160 Wn.2d 106, 110, 156 P.3d 201 (2007). We also review questions of constitutional law de novo. State v. Rice, 174 Wn.2d 884, 892, 279 P.3d 849 (2012).

         ANALYSIS

         We decide two issues.[1] First, we hold that the sexual motivation aggravator can apply to indecent exposure because indecent exposure does not inherently require a sexual motive. Second, we hold that the rapid recidivism aggravator was not unconstitutionally vague as applied to Murray because a person of reasonable understanding would not have to guess that reoffending 16 days after being released from jail qualifies as "shortly after being released from incarceration." RCW 9.94A.535(3)(t). As a result, we affirm the Court of Appeals.

         I. Does the indecent exposure aggravator inherently require a sexual motive?

         Because indecent exposure does not inherently require a sexual motive, we hold that the sexual ...


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