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In re Personal Restraint of Schorr

Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc

August 2, 2018

In the Matter of the Personal Restraint of WILLIAM CRAIG SCHORR, Petitioner.

          GORDON McCLOUD, J.

         William Craig Schorr pleaded guilty to first degree murder, first degree robbery, second degree arson, and first degree theft in 2006. Eleven years later, he filed a personal restraint petition (PRP) challenging the convictions of both first degree murder and first degree robbery on double jeopardy grounds. The Court of Appeals dismissed the PRP as untimely and treated the double jeopardy claim as waived.

         We affirm the Court of Appeals but on different grounds. We adhere to our prior decisions holding that challenges to sentences that exceed the court's authority-like the double jeopardy challenge to the sentence in this case-cannot be waived. We also reaffirm that double jeopardy claims are exempt from the one- year time bar on collateral challenges. We therefore address the merits of Schorr's claim.

         Schorr's simultaneous convictions of first degree murder and first degree robbery do not violate double jeopardy clause protections. Schorr was charged with first degree murder by two alternative means: premeditated murder and felony murder predicated on first degree robbery. Our case law clearly holds that when criminal defendants plead guilty to charges in an information, they cannot pick and choose the portions of the charges to which they will plead guilty. Thus, even though first degree felony murder predicated on first degree robbery would merge with the first degree robbery on which it is predicated, that was not the only means of first degree murder to which Schorr pleaded guilty. He also pleaded guilty to the alternative means of premeditated murder. A first degree robbery conviction certainly does not merge with a first degree premeditated murder conviction.

         We therefore dismiss the PRP.

         Facts

         According to the State's declaration for determination of probable cause, Schorr and Jeremy Hosford planned and executed a robbery of a Snap-on Tools Company truck. On February 24, 2004, Schorr and Hosford armed themselves with guns and flagged down the truck. They handcuffed the victim, Robert Shapel, and stole his personal property. One or both of them also pulled a plastic bag over Shapel's head and duct-taped it at his neck. Shapel suffocated and died. Schorr and Hosford then dumped the body.

         The Snap-on Tools Company truck was left in a parking lot for several hours. Schorr and Hosford later returned to the truck, stole the tools, and set the empty truck on fire.

         On March 2, 2004, the State charged Schorr with aggravated murder and several other crimes. On November 16, 2005, however, Schorr agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges. Suppl. Br. of Resp't, App. B. He did this specifically to "eliminate[] the possibility that defendant will be subject to the death penalty or a sentence of life without the possibility of parole." Id., App. D at 2, para. 2 (plea agreement).

         On August 4, 2006, the State filed an amended information to implement this plea agreement. Id., App. C. The aggravated murder charge was gone. Instead, the amended information charged first degree murder in count I by two alternative means: premeditated murder in violation of RCW 9A.32.O3O(1)(a) and felony murder in violation of RCW 9A.32.O3O(1)(c). Id. at 1-2. Each alternative means included a firearm enhancement. The State also charged first degree robbery, second degree arson, and first degree theft (counts III, IV, and V). Id. at 2-3.

         On November 16, 2005, Schorr pleaded guilty to that amended information. Schorr's plea agreement included a "Waiver of appeal and collateral attack rights regardless of changes in the law" in which Schorr agreed not to bring "any kind of future legal challenge to his convictions and sentences." Id., App. D at 5-6 (underlining omitted).

         Procedural History

         In January 2017, Schorr filed a pro se PRP. He raised a single claim: he argued that his first degree robbery and first degree theft convictions violate double jeopardy clause protections because both convictions should have merged with his first degree felony murder conviction. Schorr also argued that because his PRP was based on a double jeopardy claim, his petition was exempt from the one-year time limit on collateral review. RCW 10.73.090 (one-year time limit), .100(3) (exception to one-year time limit for double jeopardy claims).

         The Court of Appeals dismissed the petition. Mot. for Discr. Review, App. (order). It ruled that Schorr waived his right to seek collateral review and that his PRP was also untimely. Id.

         Schorr filed a motion for discretionary review in this court. He now argues that his first degree robbery conviction should have ...


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