State v. Sebben
The defendant failed to raise a colorable claim of double jeopardy from the court's rejection of his plea agreement and reinstatement of the charges against him, because his plea was conditional and he had no reasonable expectation of finality. The listed facts included the following. Peter Sebben, involved in a sometimes violent relationship with Tonya McKay, drove McKay, unresponsive and with bruise marks on her body, to the hospital. Sebben, with a visible scratch mark on his neck and bite marks later found on his body, reported that McKay injured herself banging her head on the floor. McKay, determined to be brain dead, was removed from life support equipment and died. McKay's death was certified as a homicide, caused by blunt force trauma to her head. Sebben was charged with manslaughter in the first degree and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. Under an agreement, Sebben pleaded nolo contendere to substitute charges of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment. The court, Brunetti, J., accepted the plea and continued the matter twice for presentence investigation. After receiving the second report and hearing from the parties and victim's parents, the court rejected the plea bargain as inappropriate. Defense counsel withdrew the plea. The initial charges were reinstated. The court, Ginocchio, J., denied the defendant's motion to dismiss the charges. The defendant appealed, claiming that the court improperly denied his motion on double jeopardy grounds. The state moved to dismiss the interlocutory appeal for lack of a final judgment. The Appellate Court granted the motion and dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, as the defendant failed to raise a colorable claim of double jeopardy, pursuant to the 2010 Supreme Court decision in State v. Thomas, because his plea was conditional and he had no reasonable expectation of finality. The defendant unsuccessfully attempted to distinguish Thomas. Any factual differences did not alter the conclusion that the acceptance of the defendant's plea was conditional. The plea was conditioned on the court's review of the presentence investigation report and McKay's parents' rights to participate meaningfully in the sentencing. Whether the defendant was charged with a felony or misdemeanor and whether the presentence investigation was required by statute, did not change the conditional nature of the court's acceptance of his plea.