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In re Personal Restraint Petition of Knight

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 2

July 10, 2018

In re Personal Restraint Petition of: MARVIS J. KNIGHT, Petitioner

          MELNICK, J.

         Marvis J. Knight asserts in his personal restraint petition (PRP) that his conviction for the nonexistent crime of attempted manslaughter in the first degree (attempted manslaughter) constitutes constitutional error resulting in actual and substantial prejudice. He seeks to withdraw his guilty plea and to vacate that conviction. We grant the petition and remand to vacate the conviction for attempted manslaughter.

         FACTS

         I. Attempted Manslaughter Conviction

         In 1995, Knight fired shots at another man after the two flashed rival gang signs at each other. The Thurston County Prosecutor's Office charged Knight with one count of assault in the first degree.

         After negotiations with Knight's lawyer, the State filed an amended information for one count of "attempted manslaughter in the first degree," under RCW 9A.28.020 and RCW 9A.32.060. Clerk's Papers (CP) at 4. This charge reduced the standard range from 93-123 months to 23.25-30.75 months. The amended information alleged that Knight "took a substantial step toward recklessly causing the death of another person." CP at 4.

         Knight entered an Alford[1] plea to the count of attempted manslaughter. At the time, Knight was seventeen years old and had a ninth grade education. Knight stipulated to an exceptional sentence of 38 months. The court accepted the guilty plea, followed the plea agreement, and sentenced Knight to 38 months.

         II. Assault and Felony Harassment Convictions

         In March 2000, a jury convicted Knight of two counts of assault in the second degree and two counts of felony harassment. The trial court sentenced Knight as a persistent offender[2] to total confinement for life without the possibility of early release on each of the assault counts.[3]

         The court based its persistent offender determination on Knight's 1995 conviction for attempted manslaughter and a 1997 conviction for robbery in the second degree.

         III. Motion to Withdraw Plea and PRP

         In December 2003, Knight filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea to attempted manslaughter. The Thurston County Superior Court denied the motion as time barred. Knight did not appeal the order.

         In June 2016, Knight filed a motion to vacate the attempted manslaughter conviction, arguing it was facially invalid. The Thurston County Superior Court transferred the motion to this court as a PRP. We ...


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