Washington v. Wences (Majority and Dissent)Annotate this Case
Following a search of Marco Wences' car in 2003, the State charged him with possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) with intent to manufacture or deliver. The State also alleged that Wences was armed with a firearm during the commission of the crime. A jury convicted Wences of all charges in 2005. The trial court instructed the jury that a firearm was a deadly weapon, and the jury answered "yes" to a special verdict form that asked whether Wences was "armed with a deadly weapon at the time of the commission of the crime." The question this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court's review was whether the rule announced in Washington v. Williams-Walker, 225 P.3d 913 (2010), applied to appellate review of Wences' 2015 sentence. Williams-Walker held that the Washington Constitution prohibited a sentencing court from imposing a firearm enhancement based on a deadly weapon special verdict finding. In 2005, Wences did not appear for a scheduled sentencing hearing. Concluding that Wences "should not benefit from changes in the law that apply to him solely because he absconded and delayed his sentencing," the Court of Appeals affirmed the superior court's decision to impose the firearm enhancement based on pre-Williams-Walker law. The Washington Supreme Court held, however, that this result was impermissible under settled law. The Court therefore reversed the appellate court and remanded this case for resentencing consistent with Williams-Walker.