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In re Stevens

Supreme Court of Vermont

January 17, 2014

In re Norman W. Stevens

Editorial Note:

This Opinion is subject to motion for reargument or formal revision before publication. See V.R.A.P. 40

On Appeal from Superior Court, Chittenden Unit, Civil Division. Geoffrey W. Crawford, J.

Affirmed.

Matthew Valerio, Defender General, and Kelly Green, Prisoners' Rights Office, Montpelier, for Petitioner-Appellant.

William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, and David Tartter, Assistant Attorney General, Montpelier, for Respondent-Appellee.

Present: Reiber, C.J., Dooley, Skoglund and Robinson, JJ., and Zonay, Supr. J., Specially Assigned.

OPINION

Reiber, C.J.

Page 911

[¶1] Petitioner appeals from the Chittenden Civil Division's decision granting the State's motion for summary judgment on his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). On appeal, petitioner argues that the trial court erred in determining that his sentence of life without parole for attempted murder does not violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. We affirm the trial court's grant of summary judgment.

[¶2] The facts of petitioner's underlying conviction are not in dispute, and were previously summarized by this Court as follows:

Prior to August 13, 1999, defendant had been romantically involved with Amy Cruickshank. On August 13, Cruickshank obtained a temporary relief from abuse order, which was served on defendant that afternoon. In the early hours of August 14, defendant broke into the motel room where Cruickshank was residing and where she was asleep with her boyfriend, Christopher Massey. Defendant attacked Cruickshank and Massey with a hammer, injuring both of them and driving Massey from the room. Defendant dragged Cruickshank by the hair out of the room and toward his van parked outside. Defendant had equipped the van with ropes on the front passenger seat in order to restrain Cruickshank, as well as with gasoline and flares with which defendant intended to set the vehicle on fire. As defendant

Page 912

dragged Cruickshank towards the van, he was apprehended by several neighbors, who restrained him until the police arrived. Defendant voluntarily admitted to the police that he had assaulted the victims and further indicated that he had intended to go ...

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