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Commonwealth v. Walters

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Bristol

April 12, 2018

COMMONWEALTH
v.
MICHAEL WALTERS.

          Heard: December 4, 2017.

         Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on March 28, 2011.

         Following review by this court, 472 Mass. 680 (2015), a resentencing hearing was had before E. Susan Garsh, J.

         After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review.

          Ethan C. Stiles for the defendant.

          Roger L. Michel, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

          Present: Gants, C.J., Gaziano, Lowy, Cypher, & Kafker, JJ.

          CYPHER, J.

         The defendant, Michael J. Walters, was convicted by a jury in the Superior Court of stalking, harassment, two counts of restraining order violations, and two counts of perjury. While he was serving his State prison sentence for stalking, that conviction was vacated by this court because the evidence was insufficient. Commonwealth v. Walters, 472 Mass. 680 (2015) (Walters I). As a result, the defendant was resentenced on the remaining convictions. At resentencing, the defendant requested that his perjury sentence be deemed "time served" because it was the only other sentence that could have been considered a State prison sentence. Rather than granting the defendant's request, however, the trial judge vacated the stalking sentence, consistent with our opinion in Walters I, and imposed the remaining sentences nunc pro tunc to the date of his original sentence. Consequently, the defendant served his sentences for criminal harassment and a restraining order violation -- crimes that normally carry a sentence to a house of correction -- in State prison. The defendant appealed from his resentencing on the ground that the structure of his resentencing scheme was illegal. Following the Appeals Court's dismissal of the defendant's case as moot, we granted further appellate review. We affirm the decision of the resentencing judge.

         Background.

         1. First trial and sentences.

         On June 12, 2012, the defendant was convicted of stalking, G. L. c. 265, § 43 (a.); criminal harassment, G. L. c. 265, § 43A (a.); two counts of restraining order violations, G. L. c. 2O9A, § 7; and two counts of perjury, G. L. c. 268, § 1. The trial judge sentenced the defendant to the following: on the charge of stalking, from three to four years in a State prison; on the charge of criminal harassment, two and one-half years in a house of correction, concurrent with the stalking sentence; on the charge of a restraining order violation (first count), two and one-half years in a house of correction, concurrent with the stalking sentence; on the charge of perjury (first count), from two to three years in a State prison on and after the stalking sentence; on the charge of a restraining order violation (second count), two and one-half years in a house of correction, suspended for five years with probation on and after all incarceration; and on the charge of perjury (second count), five years' probation on and after all incarceration. That day, the defendant's bail was revoked and he was transferred to a State prison, the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction, where he began serving his stalking sentence, before being transferred to the Bay State Correctional Center[1] at Norfolk. In April, 2015, he was transferred to the North Central Correctional Institution at Gardner, [2] where he remained through resentencing and until he was released to begin probation.

         2. Resentencing.

         On December 11, 2015, the stalking charge was vacated and dismissed, and the defendant was resentenced by the trial judge to the following: on the charge of criminal harassment, two and one-half years in a house of correction, nunc pro tunc to June 12, 2012; on the charge of a restraining order violation (first count), two and one-half years in a house of correction, nunc pro tunc to June 12, 2012, concurrent with the sentence for criminal harassment; on the charge of perjury (first count), from two to three years in a State prison on and after the criminal harassment sentence; on the charge of a restraining order violation (second count), two and one-half years in a house of ...


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