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State v. Williams

Supreme Court of Kansas

June 13, 2014

STATE OF KANSAS, Appellee,
v.
JAMES F. WILLIAMS, Appellant

Appeal from Sedgwick District Court; JOSEPH BRIBIESCA, judge.

Judgment of the district court is affirmed.

SYLLABUS

BY THE COURT

1. The interpretation of the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act is subject to unlimited appellate review.

2. When interpreting a statute, the fundamental rule to which all other rules are subordinate is that the intent of the legislature governs if that intent can be ascertained. The best and only safe rule for ascertaining the intention of the makers of any written law is to abide by the language they have used.

3. When calculating a defendant's criminal history that includes out-of-state convictions and juvenile adjudications under K.S.A. 21-4711, the district court shall classify the out-of-state crimes as person or nonperson. In designating these crimes as person or nonperson, the comparable offenses in Kansas shall be determined as of the date the defendant committed the out-of-state crimes.

4. Under the facts of this case, the district court correctly concluded that the defendant's prior out-of-state conviction is comparable to aggravated burglary under K.S.A. 21-3716 (Furse 1995) and therefore properly classified the conviction as a person crime.

Adam D. Stolte, of Kansas Appellate Defender Office, argued the cause, and Ryan Eddinger, of the same office, was on the brief for appellant.

Boyd K. Isherwood, chief appellate attorney, argued the cause, and Nola Tedesco Foulston, district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were with him on the brief for appellee.

OPINION

Page 1071

NUSS, C.J.

James F. Williams appeals the sentence imposed after his Alford plea to one count of first-degree felony murder and two counts of arson. He alleges the district court erred in calculating his criminal history score by classifying a prior out-of-state conviction as a person crime instead of a nonperson crime. This [299 Kan. 871] classification elevated his overall score, which in turn allowed his sentence to be increased in severity.

We reject his arguments and affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

Williams was charged with one count of first-degree felony murder and two counts of arson arising from an incident involving domestic violence and a fire at a Wichita apartment. Williams asked the district ...


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