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WILLIAMS v. COMMONWEALTH (54539)



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WILLIAMS

v.

COMMONWEALTH

(unpublished)


JULY 25, 2000

Record No. 1099-99-1

DANIAL J. WILLIAMS

v.

COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF NORFOLK

Charles E. Poston, Judge

Present: Judges Willis, Lemons[1] and Frank

Argued at Chesapeake, Virginia

Cynthia D. Garris for appellant.

Virginia B. Theisen, Assistant Attorney General
(Mark L. Earley, Attorney General; Stephen R. McCullough,
Assistant Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.


MEMORANDUM OPINION [2]
BY JUDGE ROBERT P. FRANK

Danial J. Williams (appellant) challenges his
convictions for capital murder and rape. On appeal, he contends
that the trial court erred in refusing to permit him to withdraw
his pleas of guilty. We disagree and affirm the convictions.

I. BACKGROUND

On January 22, 1999, appellant pled guilty to
the July 7, 1997 capital murder and rape of Michelle Moore Bosko
(victim).

Appellant signed a stipulation of facts
implicating himself and six other men in the victim’s rape and
murder. In the stipulation, appellant stated that he did not
ejaculate when he had intercourse with the victim. At the April
28, 1999 sentencing hearing, appellant moved to withdraw his
pleas of guilty. The trial court denied the motion to withdraw
the pleas of guilty, stating that the court found the pleas were
voluntarily and intelligently made, they were not entered under
fraud, coercion, or undue influence, and that the new evidence
asserted by appellant was not a defense to his case. The trial
court then pronounced sentence.

II. ANALYSIS

Appellant contends that the trial court erred
in denying his motion to withdraw his pleas of guilty. We find no
error and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

"[W]hether or not an accused should be
allowed to withdraw a plea of guilty for the purpose of
submitting one of not guilty is a matter that rests within the
sound discretion of the trial court and is to be determined by
the facts and circumstances of each case." Parris v.
Commonwealth
, 189 Va. 321, 324, 52 S.E.2d 872, 873 (1949).
The trial court’s finding as to the credibility of witnesses and
the weight of the evidence in support of a motion to withdraw a
plea of guilty will not be disturbed unless plainly wrong or
without evidence to support it. See Hoverter v.
Commonwealth
, 23 Va. App. 454, 465, 477 S.E.2d 771, 776
(1996) (citation omitted).

No fixed or definite rule applicable to and
determinative of all cases can be laid down. However, the motion
should not be denied, if timely made, and if it appears from the
surrounding circumstances that the plea of guilty was submitted
in good faith under an honest mistake of material fact or facts,
or if it was induced by fraud, coercion or undue influence and
would not otherwise have been made.

Parris, 189 Va. at 324, 52 S.E.2d at
873.

Appellant argues that, subsequent to the entry
of his pleas, another man confessed to committing the crimes
alone, which exculpates appellant and is indicative that he
entered his pleas inadvisedly. In support of his argument,
appellant asserts that the physical evidence links the other man
to the crimes.

Before accepting appellant’s pleas, the trial
court asked appellant whether he understand the plea agreement
and whether he had the opportunity to discuss the plea agreement
with his attorneys. Appellant answered in the affirmative, and
the trial court found that appellant’s pleas were voluntarily and
intelligently made. The trial court, therefore, did not err in
ruling that appellant’s pleas were not entered under fraud, undue
influence, or coercion.

At the time he entered his guilty pleas,
appellant admitted in the stipulation of facts that he committed
the crimes along with six other men. He testified under oath that
the information in the stipulation of facts was true. Clearly, he
knew that other people were involved in the crime. He also stated
that he did not ejaculate when he had intercourse with the
victim, indicating that there was no genetic evidence to link him
to the crimes when he entered his pleas. Thus, we find no error
in the trial court’s determination that the pleas were not based
on a mistake of material facts.

We, therefore, find that appellant’s pleas were
voluntarily and intelligently made, were not made as a result of
fraud, coercion, or undue influence, and his assertion that new
evidence exculpates him is contrary to his own statement under
oath that his admissions in the stipulation of facts were true.
For these reasons, we find no error and affirm the judgment of
the trial court.

Affirmed.

 

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Justice Lemons participated in
the hearing and decision of this case prior to his investiture as
a Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia.

[2] Pursuant to Code
? 17.1-413, recodifying Code ? 17-116.010, this
opinion is not designated for publication.

 

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