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Williams v. State (3/22/2013) ap-2387

Williams v. State (3/22/2013) ap-2387


          The text of this opinion can be corrected before the opinion is published in the 

          Pacific  Reporter.    Readers   are   encouraged   to   bring   typographical   or   other 

         formal errors to the attention of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts: 

                               303 K Street, Anchorage, Alaska  99501

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                                                             Court of Appeals No. A-10763 

                                Appellant,                Trial Court No. 3AN-08-14379 CR 


                                                                      O P I N I O N 


                                Appellee.                    No. 2387     —   March 22, 2013 

                Appeal    from     the  Superior    Court,   Third   Judicial   District, 

                Anchorage, Jack Smith, and Michael Spaan, Judges. 

                Appearances:         Michael     T.   Schwaiger,     Assistant    Public 

                Defender, and Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for 

                the Appellant. Timothy W. Terrell, Assistant Attorney General, 

                Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, Anchorage, and 

                Michael C. Geraghty, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appel­ 


                Before:     Coats,   Chief   Judge,   and   Mannheimer   and   Bolger, 


                COATS, Chief Judge.

                MANNHEIMER, Judge, concurring.

                After being convicted for a felony, SamG. Williams Jr. was granted parole. 

The Parole Board stated that Williams was to reside at a community residential center 

(CRC) for ninety days.   While being transported in a CRC van to the residential center, 

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Williams opened the van door, left the van, and left the area.              Based on this conduct, 

Williams was convicted of escape in the second degree, which is defined as removing 

oneself from official detention for a felony without lawful authority. 1 

                Williams argues that he did not commit the offense of escape in the second 

degree   because   he   had   been   released   on   parole,   and   therefore   was   not   in   official 

detention when he left the CRC van.             We conclude that Williams was not in official 

detention when he left the van. 

        Factual and procedural background 

                Williams was convicted of felony driving while intoxicated in 2001 and 

2004.   He was initially released on mandatory parole on February 28, 2008.  Williams 

admitted to violating his parole in June 2008.   He was placed at the Glenwood Center, 

a CRC.     Williams left the Glenwood Center without his parole officer’s permission in 

July 2008 and was again charged with violating his parole. 

                Based upon these parole violations, the Alaska Board of Parole revoked 

Williams’s mandatory parole, and Williams was placed in an Anchorage correctional 

facility. But, effective December 17, 2008, the Board reparoled Williams, subject to the 

condition that Williams reside at a CRC for ninety days.                The Board provided that if 

Williams was admitted to both mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment, 

he could be released to an approved residence prior to the end of the ninety days. 

                Williams remained in the Anchorage correctional facility until December 

22, 2008.  Williams was supposed to be released to the Parkview Center, but the State 

mistakenly transferred him first to the Cordova Center. Both the Cordova and Parkview 

Centers   are   owned      by  the   Cornell   Company,   a   private     company.     Williams    was 

    1   AS 11.56.310(a)(1)(B). 

                                                 – 2 –                                             2387 

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transported from the Cordova Center to the Parkview Center in a Cornell Company van. 

When the van momentarily stopped, Williams opened the door, left the van, and left the 


                On January 13, 2009, Williams was stopped in downtown Anchorage by 

Officer Eric Nowak.   As Nowak approached Williams, Williams stated, “Okay, you got 

me.”   Nowak asked Williams for identification and ran a warrant check.   After finding 

an outstanding warrant, Nowak arrested Williams. 

                Williams was charged and convicted of escape in the second degree, which 

is   defined   as   removing   oneself   from official   detention   for   a   felony   without   lawful 

authority. 2   Official detention is defined as “custody, arrest, surrender in lieu of arrest, 

or actual or constructive restraint under an order of a court in a criminal or juvenile 

proceeding, other than an order of conditional bail release.” 3             Williams was sentenced 

to eight years with three years suspended. 

         Why we conclude Williams was not in “official detention” 

                We conclude that Beckman v. State, 689 P.2d 500 (Alaska App. 1984) and 

Ivie   v.   State,   179   P.3d   947   (Alaska   App.   2008)   control   the   decision   in   this   case. 

Beckman was sentenced to serve seven years and nine months in prison with five years 

suspended on a conviction for passing bad checks. 4           Beckman was released on probation 

and violated his conditions of probation. 5        At a revocation hearing a superior court judge 

modified   the   conditions   of   Beckman’s   probation   and   required   him to   complete   an 

    2   AS 11.56.310(a)(1)(B). 

    3   AS 11.81.900(b)(40). 

    4   Beckman, 689 P.2d at 500. 

    5   Id. at 501. 

                                                  – 3 –                                             2387

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eighteen-month period in a residential alcohol treatment program, Akeela House, a 

private institution that provided both residential and non-residential drug rehabilitation 

therapy. 6 

                When space became available at Akeela House, a representative of the 

program went to the jail and obtained Beckman’s release to the program.                        But after 

Beckman was released, Beckman fled from the Akeela House representative in the 

parking lot outside the jail. 

                The State charged Beckman with escape in the second degree and he was 

convicted of that charge.         On appeal, Beckman claimed that he was not in “official 

detention” when he fled from the jail parking lot. 7 

                We   agreed   with   Beckman’s   argument.           We   concluded   that,   although 

Beckman was under confinement at Akeela House, he was not confined “under an order 

of a court.” 8   Our reasoning relied on the legislative history of the statutory definition 

of   “official   detention.” 9   We   concluded   that,   based   on   that   legislative   history,   the 

legislature did not intend “official detention” to include supervision on probation or 

parole. 10  We held that the superior court order modifying Beckman’s probation could 

not “realistically be construed as an order requiring Beckman to be confined at Akeela 

House.” 11    We stated that “[u]nder the terms of the superior court’s order modifying 

Beckman’s probation, the Division of Corrections lost custody over Beckman upon his 

    6   Id. at 501 & n.1.

    7   Id. at 501.

    8   Id. at 502.

    9   See AS 11.81.900(b)(40).

    10  Beckman, 689 P.2d at 503.

    11  Id.

                                                  – 4 –                                             2387

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release to Akeela House.   Akeela House itself was never ordered to confine Beckman, 

either   directly   by   the   court   or   indirectly   through   the   Division   of   Corrections.” 12 

Therefore, we held that Beckman was not in official detention when he fled. 

                 InIvie, we reached a similar conclusion. After being convicted and serving 

a sentence of incarceration on a felony charge, Ivie was released on probation.                            He 

appeared before the superior court on a petition to revoke his probation.  The superior 

court ruled   that Ivie was to be held at the Fairbanks   jail until a bed   opened up   at 

NorthStar Center, a halfway house. 13            The court stated that if a bed became available at 

the NorthStar Center, Ivie’s “conditions of release [would require him] to take the bed, 

follow all rules,” and if he was “discharged for any reason,” he was to be returned to 

jail. 14 

                 Iviewas transferred totheNorthStarCenter,wherehewalked away without 

permission.   He was charged and convicted of escape in the second degree.   On appeal, 

Ivie argued that he could not be convicted of escape in the second degree because he was 

not in “official detention” when he left the NorthStar Center. 

                 We agreed with Ivie and vacated his conviction. 15               We relied on Beckman 

for   the   proposition   that   “a   person   is   not   guilty   of   escape   just   because   he   leaves 

confinement. In order for Ivie to be guilty of escape, the court must have ordered the 

Department of Corrections to confine him, and he must have removed himself from that 

     12  Id.

     13  Ivie , 179 P.3d at 948-49.

     14  Id. at 949.

     15  Id. at 951.

                                                    – 5 –                                                2387

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confinement.” 16     We concluded that the superior court order sending Ivie to NorthStar 

Center was an “order of conditional bail release.” 17 

                The State concedes that Beckman correctly interpreted “official detention” 

to exclude supervision on probation and parole. But the State argues that while “official 

detention” does not include general supervision of a defendant who is on parole, it does 

include genuinely restrictive parole conditions.   But the State’s argument conflicts with 

Beckman and with the legislative history on which we relied in reaching our conclusion 

in that case.     Furthermore, the State has not articulated any convincing standard for 

deciding when parole conditions become sufficiently restrictive to constitute escape. 

                We accordingly conclude that our former decisions in Beckman and Ivie 

govern our decision in this case.   Based on those decisions, we conclude that Williams 

was released on parole conditions which required him to reside at Parkview Center, a 

private CRC. When Williams departed from the van that was taking him to the Parkview 

Center, he was in violation of his conditions of parole, but he was not in “official 

detention”      while   in  the   van.    He    therefore   could    not   be  convicted     of  escape. 

Accordingly, Williams’s conviction for escape in the second degree is VACATED, and 

the indictment against him for that charge is dismissed. 

    16  Id. at 950. 

    17  Id. 

                                                  – 6 –                                              2387 

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MANNHEIMER, Judge, concurring. 

                Williams,   who   had   just   been   paroled   on   condition   that   he   reside   at   a 

halfway house designated by the Parole Board, fled from the van that was transporting 

him to this halfway house.         For this act of flight, Williams was charged with second- 

degree escape under AS 11.56.310(a)(1)(B). To prove this crime, the State had to show 

that Williams removed himself from official detention for a felony when he had no 

lawful authority to do so. 

                Broadly speaking, the issue raised in this appeal is whether Williams was 

in “official detention” when he fled. 

                The   phrase   “official   detention”   is   defined   in   AS   11.81.900(b)(40)   as 

encompassing “custody, arrest, [or] surrender in lieu of arrest”, as well as “actual or 

constructive restraint under [any] order of a court in a criminal or juvenile proceeding, 

other than an order of conditional bail release”. 

                The State concedes that the only part of this definition that conceivably 

applies to Williams’s situation is “custody”. Thus, the real question is whether a person 

who has been released from prison on parole, but who has been ordered by the Parole 

Board to reside at a specific halfway house, remains in “custody” for purposes of the 

escape statute. 

                The Alaska Statutes do not contain a pertinent definition of “custody”. 

However, the State takes the position that the core meaning of “custody” is “physical 

restraint”.   For this reason, the State concedes that people who have been released from 

prison on either probation or parole are, generally speaking, not “in custody”. 

                However, the State argues that sometimes, when a person’s conditions of 

probation or parole impose restrictions on the person’s residence, or on the person’s 

physical movement (or both), the restrictions can be so broad or extensive that they 

                                                 – 7 –                                             2387

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approximatephysical confinement. Insuch instances, theStatecontends,theprobationer 

or parolee should be considered to be “in custody” for purposes of the escape statutes. 

                In essence, the State proposes that this Court adopt the same approach to 

“custody” (for purposes of the escape statutes) as the approach that this Court adopted 

in Nygren v. State 1 on the question of whether a defendant’s conditions of bail release 

are so restrictive that they should be deemed “incarceration” for purposes of awarding 

the defendant credit against any subsequently imposed sentence of imprisonment. 

                But the Alaska Legislature has already declared that it does not want to 

incorporate the Nygren  line of cases — more specifically,   the Nygren  approach   to 

“incarceration” —   into the escape statutes. 

                As explained earlier in this concurrence, a charge of second-degree escape 

requires   the   State   to   prove   that   the   defendant   unlawfully   removed   themself   from 

“official detention”.   And the legislature’s definition of “official detention”, AS 11.81.­ 

900(b)(40), declares that this termdoes not include “order[s] of conditional bail release”. 

                Byadding this clauseto thedefinition of“official detention”, thelegislature 

essentially declared that it did not want charges of escape to turn on a case-by-case 

assessment of the nature of a defendant’s bail conditions, and whether those conditions 

were restrictive enough to approximate incarceration. 

                Because the legislature rejected the Nygren  approach to bail conditions 

when it framed the definition of “official detention”, I conclude that it would run counter 

to the legislature’s intent for us to adopt the State’s current proposal of a Nygren-like 

approach to the definition of “custody” in the context of probation and parole. 

                For these reasons, I agree with my colleagues that Williams’s conviction 

for second-degree escape should be reversed. 

    1   658 P.2d 141, 146 (Alaska App. 1983). 

                                                – 8 –                                             2387 

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