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State v. McKinnon-Conneally

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

November 10, 2014

State
v.
Kathleen McKinnon-Conneally

Providence County Superior Court. (P1/09-3671A). Associate Justice Walter R. Stone.

For State: Lauren S. Zurier, Department of Attorney General.

For Defendant: David D. Prior, Esq.

Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.

OPINION

Page 876

Suttell, Chief Justice.

The defendant, Kathleen McKinnon-Conneally,[1] appeals from a Superior Court judgment finding her to be in violation of the terms of her probation and sentencing her to serve the eight and one-half years remaining on her previously suspended sentence. On appeal, the defendant argues that the hearing justice imposed an excessive sentence for her probation violation. This case came before the Supreme Court pursuant to an order directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised in this appeal should not be summarily decided. After considering the parties' written and oral submissions and reviewing the record, we conclude that cause has not been shown and that this case may be decided without further briefing or argument. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.

I

Facts and Travel

On March 23, 2010, defendant pled nolo contendere to one count of second-degree robbery. She was sentenced to ten years at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) with eighteen months to serve, which term to serve was stayed pending her completion of mental health and substance abuse counseling, and eight and one-half years suspended, with probation. Although it is not entirely clear from the record, the stay on the eighteen-month term to serve was apparently removed on February 1, 2011, and defendant was incarcerated at the ACI until her release on November 30, 2011. On December 19, 2011, defendant was arrested by the West Warwick Police Department on charges of first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery, based on an

Page 877

incident reported on December 1, 2011. On December 22, 2011, the state filed a violation notice against defendant pursuant to Rule 32(f) of the Superior Court Rules of Criminal Procedure for allegedly violating the terms of her probation. The Superior Court conducted a combined probation-violation and bail hearing on February 9, 2012.

At the hearing, complaining witness Carol Riddle testified that she went into a West Warwick package store on the night of December 1, 2011, to buy a beverage and withdraw cash from an ATM.[2] According to Riddle, defendant initiated a conversation with her and then invited her to listen to karaoke music playing in a bar next door. Riddle testified that, after drinking a couple of shots of liquor and some beer, she was ready to go home, but defendant suggested that they go someplace else to get something to eat and to " hang out." Once the two women were outside the bar, defendant's friend Andrew Jordan (" A.J." ) appeared and the three began walking on a main road. Riddle recalled that defendant suggested cutting through an alley so that they could reach their next destination more quickly. Once they were in the alley, A.J. knocked Riddle to the ground with a blow to her head and then punched her in the face before demanding that she give him the personal identification number for her ATM card. Riddle recalled that defendant was also demanding the personal identification number as she dumped the contents of Riddle's purse onto the ground. Riddle convinced defendant and A.J. that she had to call her sister to get the personal identification number. Riddle testified that defendant and A.J. " let her up" and that they started " picking up stuff" that " had poured out of [Riddle's] purse." The items that Riddle picked up included her " ID card" and " [defendant's] ID card." Riddle testified that she put both ID cards in her bra. The three went to a bar, where Riddle told the bartender to call the police. One of the responding officers, Patrolwoman Trenna Hemond, testified that, when she met with Riddle at the bar, Riddle was emotionally upset. After speaking with Officer Hemond, Riddle was taken to Kent Hospital, where she realized that she was missing $70, a carton of cigarettes, and some prescription medication from her purse. A nurse at the hospital asked Riddle what was in her bra, and Riddle removed both ID cards.[3] Officer Hemond met with Riddle the next day at the West Warwick police station, where Riddle signed a statement of her account of the events from the previous evening.

The hearing justice found that defendant had violated the conditions of her probation by failing to keep the peace and maintain good behavior, and he set bail at $100,000 with surety on the new charges of first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery. The Superior Court held a sentencing hearing on February 29, 2012. Susan Rivera, a social caseworker with the Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF), testified that defendant's then one-year-old son was in foster care because defendant had been incarcerated at the ACI and placement with a family member was not an option. Rivera testified that she had ...


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