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State v. Erickson

Supreme Court of Montana

January 16, 2018

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
KENNETH A. ERICKSON, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: October 18, 2017

         APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Twelfth Judicial District, In and For the County of Hill, Cause No. DC-11-023 Honorable Daniel A. Boucher, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Randy Homer Randolph, Attorney at Law; Havre, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Jonathan M. Krauss, Assistant Attorney General; Jessica Cole-Hodgkinson, Hill County Attorney

          OPINION

          Jim Rice, Justice

         ¶1 Appellant Kenneth Erickson (Erickson) appeals from the denial of his motion to modify his criminal judgment "as to financial obligations, " in the Twelfth Judicial District Court, Hill County. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings, addressing the following issue:

         Did the District Court err by denying Erickson's motion to modify his criminal judgment?

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND[1]

         ¶2 In April 2011, Erickson and Gene Johnson (Johnson) were involved in an altercation, which ended when Erickson struck Johnson in the face, causing Johnson to fall to the pavement and hit his head. Johnson sustained a serious injury that required significant medical treatment. In February 2013, a jury found Erickson guilty of criminal endangerment, a felony in violation of § 45-5-207, MCA. We affirmed the conviction in State v. Erickson, 2014 MT 304, 377 Mont. 84, 338 P.3d 598.

         ¶3 At the sentencing hearing in April of 2013, the State sought significant restitution for the cost of Johnson's medical care and lost wages, while Erickson argued that the case involved liability issues that were more appropriately addressed in civil litigation, which Johnson had already initiated.[2] Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas (BCBS) filed a lien against Johnson's suit, as it had paid medical benefits for his injuries. The District Court determined, under § 46-18-241(1), MCA, that imposition of full restitution in Erickson's sentence was mandatory. The court deferred imposition of sentence for a period of six years, subject to various conditions, including Condition eight:

Defendant shall pay $324, 215.31 restitution, plus a 10% administrative fee of $32, 421.53, [3] for a total of $356, 636.84 by money order or cashier's check to the Department of Corrections, Collection Unit, P.O. Box 201360, Helena, MT, 59620, for property disbursement as follows:

Priority 1: Gene Johnson

$ 39, 842.87

Priority 2: Crime Victim Compensation Program

$ 4, 737.08

Priority 3: Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas

$ 279, 635.36

(Emphasis in original.)

         ¶4 In August 2013, Johnson signed a release of his claims against Erickson in the civil litigation in consideration of a payment to him of $310, 000. This payment was funded by $300, 000 contributed by Mountain West Farm Bureau under Erickson's home owner's insurance, and a $10, 000 contribution from Erickson. The ...


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