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People v. Villela

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Second Division

June 27, 2019

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Danny Lee Villela, Defendant-Appellant.

          Boulder County District Court No. 14CR490 Honorable Patrick D. Butler, Judge

          Philip J. Weiser, Attorney General, John T. Lee, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee

          Megan A. Ring, Colorado State Public Defender, Brian Cox, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant

          OPINION

          DAILEY, JUDGE

         ¶ 1 Defendant, Danny Lee Villela, appeals the sentence imposed following termination of his probation. We affirm.

         I. Background

         A. Plea and First Probation Revocation

         ¶ 2 Defendant was originally charged with, among other things, menacing and six counts of child abuse after he threatened and physically abused his wife and their children. Pursuant to a written plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to menacing and child abuse. In the agreement, the parties agreed that the sentence to be imposed would be at the discretion of the court, but that, if the district court sentenced defendant to the custody of the Department of Corrections (DOC), the sentences would be in the presumptive range of one to three years and would run concurrently to each other.

         ¶ 3 Defendant requested a sentence to probation, and the district court sentenced him to five years of probation. The next year, following a violation of the probation terms, the court revoked and reinstated defendant's probation.

         B. Second Probation Revocation

         ¶ 4 A year later, the People again moved to revoke defendant's probation after he escaped from his program, contacted the victim in violation of a protection order, took her truck, and fled the jurisdiction.

         ¶ 5 The court revoked defendant's probation. At the resentencing hearing, defendant argued that the court could impose presumptive range DOC sentences of no more than three years for each of his class 5 felonies, because he had "specifically pled guilty to the presumptive range" and his plea documents did not state "what the aggravating range was" for these crimes. However, he acknowledged that the original stipulations set forth in the plea agreement were no longer operative:

I am fully aware of the fact that when somebody is sentenced, [if] they violate the sentence, that things like stip to no prison, stip to, you know, stip to probation, that those things do not carry over if someone violates.

         ¶ 6 The prosecutor noted that the plea documents set forth the potential for an aggravated range sentence, and that defendant had several prior felonies that were Blakely-exempt factors.[1] The prosecutor also asserted the applicable sentencing statutes permitted the court to "re-sentence[] the Defendant at its discretion" upon a probation violation. The court agreed and found that the plea agreement advised defendant of the potential for an aggravated range sentence.

         ¶ 7 The prosecutor then asked the court to impose a four-and-a-half-year aggravated range DOC sentence. In support, the prosecutor noted, among other things, defendant's numerous prior felony convictions; that defendant had pleaded guilty to a new criminal violation that involved contacting the victim and fleeing to another state while still on probation; the sadistic, violent circumstances of the original crimes; and the number of child victims involved in the original crimes. The court imposed concurrent four-year terms in the DOC on each count.

         ¶ 8 Defendant appealed his DOC sentence, contending that the district court erred in imposing an aggravated range sentence because (1) it violated the stipulated sentencing range set forth in the original plea agreement; and (2) the sentence was aggravated in violation of Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 ...


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