The Minnesota Court of Appeals June 25 ruled that a convicted murderer must serve extra time in prison because his actions resulted in a 14-year-old boy being the first person to find his slain mother.
Raymond Clyde Robideau, 38, was convicted in November 2008 of murdering Sharon Chouinard in her East Bethel home Jan. 26, 2008. They and Chouinard’s teenage son had been living together in East Bethel, but Chouinard and her son were planning to move to St. Francis without Robideau after they became estranged, according to testimony.
The morning of Jan. 26, 2008, the boy found his mother’s body in her bedroom. The medical examiner found three stab wounds in Chouinard’s neck, a deep cut on her right thumb and bruises on her legs.
Prior to the trial, the Anoka County Attorney’s Office filed a notice of intent to seek an aggravated sentence. One of the reasons stated was the presence of this boy during the commission of the crime.
Anoka County District Court Judge John C. Hoffman agreed that an upward sentence was justified and sentenced Robideau to 38 years, four months in prison. This was an upward departure of seven years, nine months for the high point of a second-degree murder conviction.
Robideau appealed this decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which affirmed the judge’s decision and then to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which asked Hoffman to take another look at the length of sentencing.
In an opinion drafted by Supreme Court Justice Christopher Dietzen, the court determined that because Chouinard’s teenage son did not see or hear his mother being murdered, the aggravating factor of a crime being committed in the presence of a child could not legally be considered.
Hoffman on Aug. 29, 2011 did not change his previous sentence and Robideau once again appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
Robideau argued that there is insufficient evidence that he intended for Chouninard’s son to find his mother’s body. He said he locked Chouinard’s bedroom door.
The Court of Appeals stated in an opinion written by Judge Stephan Muehlberg that it was reasonable to believe that Chouinard’s son would find his mother’s body because her car was in the driveway so he knew she would still have to be in the house. He could not drive and he was unlikely to leave the house, especially in January, without his mother’s permission. At the age of 14, he was certainly capable of breaking open his mother’s locked bedroom door. Robideau also knew Chouinard’s body would be in the home because he had not attempted to move it.
“The state argues that the inevitable result was that (Chouinard’s son) would be the person to find the body, that the inevitable result is the intended result and that Robideau therefore intended that result,” Muehlberg wrote.
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org