Appeal from Mobile Circuit Court. CC-94-200. Edward McDermott, TRIAL JUDGE.
Released for Publication August 21, 1995.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bowen
Christopher Wayne Matthews, the appellant, pleaded guilty to, and was convicted of, robbery in the first degree. He was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment pursuant to Ala. Code 1975, § 13A-5-6(a)(4), the firearms enhancement provision, which mandates the imposition of a sentence of "not less than 20 years" upon conviction of "a Class A felony in which a firearm or deadly weapon was used or attempted to be used." On this direct appeal from that conviction, the appellant contends that this enhancement provision was inapplicable in his case because, he says, he made a factual showing that he had no intent to use a firearm and that he had no prior knowledge that his three accomplices were either armed or that they intended to use firearms during the commission of the robbery. The appellant admitted that he was aware that his accomplices, who were his cousins, were going to commit a theft at a pawn shop, that he knew his accomplices were armed when they left the pawn shop and got into his waiting automobile, that they gave him a .357 magnum pistol taken from the pawn shop, and that he helped them escape.
The appellant's argument is based on the holding in Ex parte McCree, 554 So.2d 336, 341 (Ala. 1988):
"We must construe [ § 13A-5-6] (a)(5) [use of a firearm during the commission of a Class B or Class C felony] to mean that convictions for those underlying felonies that are committed without the intentional use of a deadly weapon do not fall within the category of convictions that invoke the enhancement provision of this statute."
The appellant entered a "best interest" plea of guilty to the offense of robbery in the first degree, which includes as an element being "armed with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument." Ala. Code 1975, § 13A-8-41(a)(1). Prior to accepting the guilty plea, the trial court informed the appellant that "the minimum sentence if a firearm or deadly weapon was used or attempted to be used is 20 years." R. 6. The appellant told the court:
"I'm not really sure that I'm guilty of that offense
However, the appellant stated that he believed "it to be in [his] best interest . . . [to] enter a plea of guilty" (R. 8) because the prosecution had "some evidence on [him] that, you know . . . -- running in like [he] did the robbery, you know, in the first degree." R. 9.
"'The only factual basis required for a guilty plea is that which will satisfy the court that the appellant knows what he is pleading guilty to.' Garner v. State, 455 So.2d 939, 940 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, 455 So.2d 940 (Ala. 1984). In this case, the appellant clearly understood what he was pleading to, and . . . his plea was voluntarily and intelligently made. Under these circumstances, 'the mere fact that he [now] denies any criminal intent is insufficient to override . . . [the] guilty plea.' Yamada v. State, 426 So.2d [906, 909 (Ala. 1982)]. See also Bowen v. State, 536 So.2d. [168, 169 (Ala.Cr.App. 1988)].
"Moreover, this issue is essentially an argument that the State failed to prove a necessary element of the offense. As this Court has repeatedly observed in the face of such an argument:
"'"A voluntary and intelligent plea of guilty is conclusive as to the defendant's guilt, constitutes an admission of all facts sufficiently charged in the indictment, and obviates the necessity of proof by the State. Dingler v. State, 408 So.2d 530 (Ala. 1981); Ex parte Sankey, 364 So.2d 362 (Ala. 1978), cert. denied, 440 U.S. 964, 99 S.Ct. 1513, 59 L.Ed.2d 779 (1979). The plea admits to all elements of the offense. Carr v. State, 406 So.2d 440 (Ala.Cr.App.1981)."'
" Mewbourn v. State, 570 So.2d 805, 812 (Ala.Cr.App. 1990) (quoting Wooten v. State, 455 So.2d 991, 992 (Ala.Cr.App. 1984)) (emphasis added in Mewbourn). Accord ...