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In re Gabree

Supreme Court of Vermont

September 8, 2017

In re Alexis Gabree

         On Appeal from Superior Court, Orleans Unit, Civil Division

          Timothy B. Tomasi, J. (summary judgment); Howard E. Van Benthuysen, J. (final judgment)

          Matthew F. Valerio, Defender General, and Emily Tredeau, Prisoners' Rights Office, Montpelier, for Petitioner-Appellant.

          Jennifer Barrett, Orleans County State's Attorney, Newport, and Christopher C. Moll, Essex, for Respondent-Appellee.

          PRESENT: Reiber, C.J., Dooley, Skoglund, Robinson and Eaton, JJ.

          SKOGLUND, J.

         ¶ 1. Petitioner Alexis Gabree appeals the superior court's decision to dismiss her petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). She argues that, during the plea colloquy, she never personally admitted that a factual basis for the charges existed, in violation of Vermont Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(f). We agree and so reverse and remand.

         ¶ 2. In 2013, the State charged petitioner with two counts of grossly negligent operation of a vehicle, death resulting, in violation of 23 V.S.A. § 1091(b). Under the terms of the plea agreement, petitioner agreed to plead guilty to both counts in exchange for a sentence of six to fifteen years, to serve.

         ¶ 3. On February 27, 2014, at the change-of-plea hearing, the court first examined the terms of the plea with the State and defense counsel, then proceeded to the following plea colloquy:

COURT. Let's talk about the charges then.
Count I in Docket No. 74-2-13 alleges that you, . . . at North Troy on or about August 5th of 2012 operated a motor vehicle on a public highway in a grossly negligent manner, resulting in the death of Margaret Moran, a person other than the operator. This is a violation of Title 23 Section 1091b. It carries a maximum penalty of up to fifteen years in jail and a fine of up to 15, 000 dollars or both.
Do you understand the nature of this charge?
PETITIONER. Yes, I do.
COURT. Do you understand the maximum penalty you could receive should you be convicted?
PETITIONER. Yes, I do.
COURT. In Count II the State alleges that you, . . . at North Troy on or about August 5, 2012 operated a motor vehicle on a public highway in a grossly negligent manner resulting in the death of Edmund Moran, a person other than the operator. This is a violation of Title 23 Section 1091b. It's the same charge we discussed in Count I. It carries the same penalty, up to fifteen years in jail and up to 15, 000 dollars in fines or both.
Do you understand the nature of that ...

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