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State v. Heitkemper

Supreme Court of Montana

October 9, 2018

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
CHAD CHRISTOPHER HEITKEMPER, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: August 29, 2018

          District Court of the Twenty-Second Judicial District, In and For the County of Carbon, Cause No. DC 13-55 Honorable Blair Jones, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Chad Wright, Appellate Defender, Lisa S. Korchinski, Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Micheal S. Wellenstein, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana Alex Nixon, Carbon County Attorney, Red Lodge, Montana

          OPINION

          Mike McGrath, Chief Justice.

         ¶1 Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and Montana Reports.

         ¶2 Chad Christopher Heitkemper (Heitkemper) appeals from a Twenty-Second Judicial District Court Sentence and Judgment whereby the District Court sentenced Heitkemper to twenty years in Montana State Prison with seven years suspended. We affirm.

         ¶3 On November 21, 2013, the State charged Heitkemper with Sexual Assault, a felony, in violation of § 45-5-502 (1) and (3), MCA, for allegedly touching the vaginal area of a nine-year-old child without consent.

         ¶4 Heitkemper was released on bail and required to wear a GPS tracking device. On January 23, 2014, the District Court held a hearing on Heitkemper's motion to rescind the GPS requirement, which was denied. At the hearing, Heitkemper's attorney informed the court that Heitkemper had a heart attack while in jail. He stated his belief that Heitkemper "had a stint put in." Heitkemper interrupted his attorney and stated, "Medical stint."

         ¶5 On May 22, 2014, Heitkemper signed a § 46-12-211(1)(c), MCA, plea agreement[1] with the State, in which he agreed to plead guilty to sexual assault. The parties agreed to a fifteen-year commitment to the Department of Corrections (DOC), with ten years suspended.

         ¶6 On May 29, 2014, the District Court held a change of plea hearing and had an extensive colloquy with Heitkemper. Heitkemper stated he understood the District Court was not bound by the plea agreement, and if it imposed a greater sentence, he would not be able to withdraw his guilty plea. He acknowledged his satisfaction with the adequacy of his attorney's assistance and stated he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The District Court accepted Heitkemper's guilty plea to felony sexual assault and ordered a presentence investigation report (PSI) and psychosexual evaluation for Heitkemper. The PSI recommended the court sentence Heitkemper to twenty years at the Montana State Prison, with five years suspended.

         ¶7 On November 25, 2014, the District Court received a pro se letter from Heitkemper asking the court to retract his guilty plea and expressing "concerns" about his attorney's representation. Heitkemper wrote,

In this letter, and the following, I will state to the best of my ability my concerns, and questions. I have discussed these with Mr. Paskell and there has been no direct answers. . . . My first concern is of how much I can trust my own counsel. On Jan. 21, 2014 I made an appearance in order to request a bond reduction. At that time the Court was informed that my heart contained a stint! It does not. . . . Therefore I ...

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