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Louis v. United States

December 2, 2004

MICHAEL LOUIS, APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (F3256-99). (Hon. Henry F. Greene, Trial Judge).

Before REIDand Glickman, Associate Judges andNEWMAN, Senior Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reid, Associate Judge

Submitted November 16, 2004

Appellant Michael Louis entered an Alford plea,*fn1 to a single count of first-degree sexual abuse in violation of D.C. Code § 22-4102 (2) (1996).*fn2 During sentencing proceedings, the trial judge imposed a sentence of eight to twenty-four years of incarceration. Subsequently, Mr. Louis filed a motion under D.C. Code § 23-110 (2001) to set aside the judgment of conviction and to withdraw his guilty plea. The trial court denied his motion. We affirm the trial court's judgment of conviction, and its denial of Mr. Louis' post-conviction motion.

FACTUAL SUMMARY

On July 28, 1999, the government filed a five-count indictment charging appellant with first-degree burglary, in violation of D.C. Code § 22-1801 (a),*fn3 three counts of first-degree sexual abuse in violation of D.C. Code § 22-4102 (2),*fn4 and assault with intent to commit first-degree sexual abuse in violation of D.C. Code §§ 22-501 and 22-4102 (1).*fn5 On September 28, 1999, the court declared a mistrial after the jury was unable to reach an unanimous verdict.

On October 15, 1999, Mr. Louis entered an Alford plea to a single count of first-degree sexual abuse and the government agreed to "dismiss all other indicted offenses," "reserve step back," "waive any applicable enhancements, and agree[d] not to allocute for more than five to fifteen years of incarceration." During the plea hearing, the trial judge told Mr. Louis that the plea agreement "[was] not binding on [him] and [that the court] could decide to impose a sentence as high in this case . . . as fifteen years to life in prison." The plea agreement reduced Mr. Louis' "maximum/minimum exposure from something in excess of fifty-five years to no more than fifteen years." Although Mr. Louis entered a guilty plea he denied guilt and stated that he "was under the influence [when the events took place]."

The government asserted that if the case went to trial its evidence would:

[P]rove beyond a reasonable doubt that on the afternoon of May 14, 1999, the victim, Ms. [Eu]lalia Fender, was living at 1305/1307 Irving Street, Northwest, here in the District. That's a group home at which she lived for approximately 11 years. She was 67 years old at the time. She had a diagnosis quite sometime ago of schizophrenia. And that afternoon at that time she was up in her third floor room by herself when the defendant appeared inside her room. He demanded that she engage with sex - - in sex with him. He put his penis in her vagina numerous times against her will. She was telling him no. He was telling her that if she didn't submit to sex with him he would kill her.

He was choking her and pressing on the area of her heart and put her in fear for her life, based on what he was doing and what he said he would do if she didn't submit. He also engaged her in anal intercourse and an act of felattio, also against her will.

When he was going to try to penetrate her vaginally again, she was able to get out of her room, go out into the hallway where she started screaming. At that point two other men who worked at the home came running upstairs. Ms. Fenner was pointing in her room saying he raped me. The two men saw the defendant inside her room in the process of fixing his pants.

The men caught Mr. Louis, brought him downstairs and held him there until the police arrived, at which point Ms. Fenner again identified the defendant as the person who had raped her.

Subsequently, the court determined that this case was "an appropriate case for an Alford plea, notwithstanding Mr. Louis' position on [the] matter."

On February 18, 2000, the government submitted a seventeen-page memorandum in aid of sentencing which described the underlying facts of the sexual abuse, defendant's history, and the effects of this crime on the victim. In the memorandum the government recommended that the court sentence Mr. Louis to five to fifteen years imprisonment. In addition, the government submitted a Victim Impact Statement prepared by Eulalia Fenner and a letter prepared by Victim Witness Advocate Maria Shumar which described "the emotion and physical trauma caused by defendant's sexual abuse and Mrs. Fenner's daily struggle to recover a life shattered by defendant's actions." On September 21, 2000, appellant's case came before the court for sentencing. Consistent with its plea agreement, the government allocuted for a sentence of five to fifteen years of incarceration. However, the court imposed a ...


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