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Commonwealth v. Kiley

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

August 9, 2019

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
SCOTT ALLEN KILEY Appellant

          Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence Entered June 5, 2018 In the Court of Common Pleas of Juniata County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-34-CR-0000128-2017

          BEFORE: BOWES, J., OLSON, J., and STABILE, J.

          OPINION

          OLSON, J.

         Appellant, Scott Allen Kiley, appeals from the judgment of sentence entered on June 5, 2018, in the Juniata County Court of Common Pleas. We vacate the judgment of sentence and remand for a new sentencing hearing consistent with this opinion.

         The trial court set forth the relevant factual and procedural history as follows.

On March 12, 2018, [Appellant] pled guilty to one count each of: operating a methamphetamine lab[], [1] [manufacturing a controlled substance], [2] risking catastrophe[], [3] and possession of a precursor substance with intent to manufacture[].[4] Other than the Commonwealth agreeing that the weight of the methamphetamine was 50-100 grams to lower [Appellant's] offense gravity score to [ten], [Appellant] entered an open guilty plea. On June 5, 2018, [Appellant] received three concurrent sentences[:] [four to ten] years for [manufacturing a controlled substance], [two to ten] years for operating a methamphetamine lab, and [one to two] years for possession of precursor substances with intent to manufacture[] [Appellant also received] one consecutive sentence of [one to two] years for risking catastrophe, for a total sentence of [five to] 12 years.
[Appellant] received credit [for time served] from June 12, 2017 to June 5, 2018. [At Appellant's sentencing hearing, ] [a]fter [the court imposed sentence], [Appellant] stated he thought the plea agreement he signed was for [three to six] years. [T]he court and the Attorney General reviewed the written plea agreement with [Appellant], noting that the document did not mention [three to six] years, only that the maximum sentence was 44 years. The Attorney General outlined the plea agreement again.
At [Appellant's] guilty plea hearing on March 12, 2018, the Attorney General stated, and the court reiterated, that this was an open guilty plea and the only agreement was to a weight of 50-100 grams of methamphetamine. [Appellant] was colloquyed and acknowledged that he had read and understood the guilty plea documents. During [Appellant's] sentencing hearing, the Attorney General explained [Appellant's] maximum sentence and reiterated the only agreement was the methamphetamine weight.
In announcing the sentence, the court noted each sentence was within the standard range and that the court had considered [Appellant's] counseling. [Appellant relied on an email from the Deputy Attorney General to support his claim that the plea agreement entailed only a three to six year sentence.] The email [to which Appellant referred only discussed] the [manufacturing a controlled substance] charge having a [possible] minimum sentence of 36-48 months. As the court imposed a [four to ten] year sentence on this charge, [the sentence fell within] this guideline []. Therefore, [Appellant's] total sentence of [five to] 12 years is a standard range sentence that meets the parameters of the guilty plea.

Trial Court Opinion, 9/18/2018, at 1-3 (unnecessary capitalization and internal citations removed).[5]

         Appellant presents three issues for our review:

1. Whether the sentence imposed was outside the scope of the plea agreement?[6]
2. Should the sentence for risking a catastrophe have merged with another count set forth in the information?
3. Did the consecutive sentences imposed for the manufacture of a controlled substance and risking a catastrophe raise the aggregate sentence to an unreasonably excessive level in light of the conduct at issue in this ...

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