CHEHALIS, Wash. — Five months after the state Court of Appeals allowed a man to withdraw his guilty plea in the of a 3-year-old due to an error in tabulating his criminal history, the court ruled this month that his wife will have the same opportunity.
Danny and Brenda Wing each pleaded guilty to crimes including first-degree manslaughter and third-degree assault in 2015 and were sentenced to 34 years in prison. Both appealed their sentences connected to the death of Jasper Henderling-Warner.
The Chronicle reports ( http://bit.ly/2uQFda6 ) the appellate court released its decision on Brenda Wing’s appeal on July 18.
Neither has officially withdrawn their pleas. Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said his office is willing to take both cases to trial.
Danny Wing, 28, and Brenda Wing, 29, became Henderling-Warner’s legal guardians in 2014 when his mother was temporarily unable to care for him.
An autopsy showed the boy suffered extensive abuse before his death. Prosecutors said the boy had contracted a bacterial infection from wounds that the couple had inflicted upon him.
According to the Court of Appeals decision, Brenda Wing appealed her conviction and sentence on several arguments.
Like her husband, she argued that her guilty plea to the third-degree assault charge was “involuntary” because her offender score, a number based on criminal history used to calculate a standard statutory sentence, was incorrect.
Brenda Wing’s offender score was calculated at 6, but should have been 5, according to the court’s brief. For an offender score of 5, the sentence should have been 17 to 22 months. For a score of 6, the sentence would be 22 to 29 months.
After Danny Wing’s appeal was granted, Meyer noted that the third-degree assault sentence ran concurrently with the 34-year sentence on the manslaughter charge, which the appeals court did not specifically overturn. Regardless of the sentence on the third-degree assault, the Wings would still be in prison on the sentence for the more serious charge.
However, the appeals court ruled she could withdraw her pleas to all charges due to the error, as it did with her husband earlier this year.
“The state argues that because the miscalculated offender score on the third-degree assault of a child conviction did not determine Wing’s ultimate sentence, there is no manifest injustice to correct and we should affirm the guilty plea. We disagree,” the court’s ruling on Brenda Wing’s appeal states. “A plea agreement must be treated as indivisible . Thus, if there is an error on one count of an indivisible multicount agreement, the entire plea agreement must be set aside upon request.”
Both pleaded guilty as part of deals with prosecutors in which they were required to provide a complete account of the boy’s death in exchange for a shorter sentence due to the removal of “aggravating factors” that have the effect of lengthening a sentence, provided they passed polygraph tests.
Neither passed, and both were sentenced to more than 34 years in prison.
At his sentencing hearing, Danny Wing admitted to failing the polygraphs and told the court he wanted to stipulate, or admit, to the aggravating factors and accept a higher sentence.
However, in his appeal, he argued that the Prosecutor’s Office breached his plea agreement by asking for the three-decade sentence. He also argued his offender score on the third-degree assault charge, which determined his sentence on that charge, was calculated improperly.