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Owens v. Williams.

2020 COA 177. No. 19CA0890. Parole Computation—Parole Eligibility—Continuous Sentence.

December 31, 2020

Owens pleaded guilty to two class 3 felony counts of aggravated robbery and one class 5 felony count of vehicular eluding. He was sentenced to 10 years in Department of Corrections (DOC) custody on each of the aggravated robbery convictions and four years on the vehicular eluding conviction, all to run consecutively. The DOC initially calculated Owens’s parole eligibility date by applying the 75% multiplier of CRS § 17-22.5-403(2.5) to the convictions for aggravated robbery and the 50% multiplier of CRS § 17-22.5-403(1) to the conviction for vehicular eluding. This resulted in a parole eligibility date occurring after Owens will have served 75% of his composite sentence.

Owens filed this case under CRCP 106(a)(2) seeking a writ of mandamus requiring DOC to calculate his parole eligibility date by treating his sentence as one continuous sentence and applying the 50% multiplier of CRS § 17-22.5-403(1). He asserted this calculation was required because he wasn’t and hadn’t previously been convicted of any crime of violence. The DOC moved to dismiss, noting it had recalculated the parole eligibility date by treating the three sentences as one continuous sentence as required by CRS § 17-22.5-101. The district court granted DOC’s motion.

On appeal, Owens argued that CRS § 17-22.5-403(2.5) didn’t apply because he wasn’t convicted of a crime of violence. He maintained that CRS § 17-22.5-403(1) applies, which sets forth the general rule that an inmate is eligible for parole after serving 50% of a sentence. It is undisputed that DOC must treat all three sentences here as one continuous sentence, so the issue was whether DOC had a clear duty to apply the 50% multiplier of CRS § 17-22.5-403(1) to that one continuous sentence. While DOC must treat all sentences as one continuous sentence, when the one continuous sentence comprises sentences subject to different parole eligibility date calculation provisions, DOC has discretion to decide how to calculate the date. Here, while the sentence for vehicular eluding falls within subsection (1)’s 50% rule, the two aggravated robbery sentences fall within subsections (2.5)(a) and (b)(I)’s 75% rule, so DOC had discretion to apply the 75% rule to the one composite sentence. Further, a conviction for aggravated robbery as a class 3 felony plainly requires application of the 75% rule regardless of whether the offense was found to be a crime of violence or the defendant was previously convicted of a crime of violence. Accordingly, Owens failed to show a clear right to mandamus relief.

The judgment was affirmed.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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