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State v. Helie

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Department B

October 31, 2013

JOHN JAY HELIE, Appellant.

Not for Publication -Rule 111, Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court

Appeal from the Superior Court in Yavapai County Cause No. V1300CR201180415 The Honorable Michael R. Bluff, Judge

Thomas C. Horne, Arizona Attorney General Phoenix by Joseph T. Maziarz, Chief Counsel, Criminal Appeals Section and Adele Ponce, Assistant Attorney General Attorneys for Appellee

David Goldberg Attorney at Law Fort Collins, CO by David Goldberg Attorney for Appellant


PETER B. SWANN, Presiding Judge

¶1 John Jay Helie appeals from sentences he received after pleading guilty to transporting marijuana for sale and possessing drug paraphernalia. The sole issue before us is whether the state presented sufficient evidence to prove that Helie was on felony release at the time he committed these offenses, a fact which the superior court relied upon to enhance Helie's sentences. We find sufficient evidence, and therefore affirm.


¶2 On September 1, 2011, a Department of Public Safety ("DPS") officer arrested Helie when an automobile search revealed that Helie was transporting nearly 100 pounds of packaged marijuana. Shortly thereafter a Yavapai County Grand Jury returned an indictment charging Helie with one count of transportation of marijuana for sale, a class 2 felony, and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, a class 6 felony ("the Arizona felonies").

¶3 The state amended the indictment to allege, for sentencing enhancement purposes, that Helie committed the Arizona felonies while released on bond on charges in Gray County, Texas, for possessing between 50 and 2000 pounds of marijuana ("the Texas felony").

¶4 On November 7, 2012, the superior court conducted a Donald hearing[1] to explain to Helie that accepting the state's plea agreement on the Arizona felonies would require the court to impose between seven and nine years of imprisonment. Helie responded, "[T]hat's really steep. I mean I — you know, it's — it's alleged — it's not even a prior. It's — it's just it was felony release. That's a fact, but it's not a conviction yet." Because Helie expressed a wish to reject the agreement, the court further explained that the Arizona felonies carried a presumptive five-year sentence, with a maximum fourteen-and-a-half-year sentence if it found that he committed them while on felony release. With this understanding, Helie decided to plead guilty without a sentencing agreement. Helie then waived his right to a jury trial on the alleged felony release, though he reserved the right to challenge his sentence.

¶5 On November 14, 2012, the superior court held an aggravation hearing during which the state introduced certified documents purporting to demonstrate Helie's felony-release status. These documents included certified records from the Gray County Jail indicating that Helie was arrested on July 23, 2010, for the Texas felony and thereafter released on a $10, 000 bond. The Gray County records contained a certified indictment, dated February 2, 2011, charging Helie with the Texas felony, a fingerprint card with Helie's name and arrest date, and a booking record with his photograph and the bonding company's name. The indictment specified that Helie remained released on bond at that time.

¶6 The state further introduced a Gray County District Attorney's application for extraditing Helie to Texas, which states:

[Helie] stands charged by the accompanying certified copy of Indictment #8799 now pending in the 31st Judicial District Court of Gray County, Texas, with the crime of [felony possession of marijuana between 50 and 2000 pounds], committed while physically present in said county and state, on or about the 23rd day of July, 2010, but who has, since the commission of said offense, and with a view of avoiding prosecution, fled from the jurisdiction of this State and is now a fugitive from justice and has taken refuge and is now to be found in the County of Yavapai, State of Arizona.

Finally, the state presented a Governor's Warrant, dated October 3, 2011, and a request to withhold extradition pending local charges, dated October 6, 2011. Each document was admitted without objection, though Helie argued at the hearing, and maintains on appeal, that the documents fail to ...

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