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State v. Ricky G.
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MAINE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT			      	                   Reporter of Decisions
Decision:	2000 ME 190
Docket: 	Aro-00-113
on briefs:	October 6, 2000
Decided:	October 30, 2000




	[¶1]  Juvenile Ricky G. appeals from a judgment entered in the
Superior Court (Aroostook County, Pierson, J.) affirming an adjudication in
the District Court (Presque Isle, Griffiths, J.) that he committed
manslaughter in violation of 17-A M.R.S.A. § 203(1)(A) (Supp. 1999){1} and
15 M.R.S.A. § 3103(1)(A) (Supp. 1999).{2}  Ricky contends that the District
Court erred in finding:  (1) that the State met its burden of disproving
Ricky's defense of self-defense based on his belief that deadly force was
about to be used against him, and (2) that the court issued insufficient
findings of fact and conclusions of law.  Finding no error or abuse of
discretion, we affirm the judgment.
	[¶2]  The manslaughter charge resulted from an incident in March of
1997 in which sixteen-year-old Ricky fatally stabbed a school classmate
twice in the chest during a fistfight.  Following trial, the District Court found
that Ricky had committed manslaughter and issued a decision detailing the
facts supporting the decision.  The court also found that the evidence did
not generate the defense of self-defense.{3}  Ricky was sentenced to
confinement in the Maine Youth Center (MYC) until age twenty-one. 
	[¶3]  Ricky appealed to the Superior Court.  The Superior Court
concluded that self-defense was generated by the evidence and remanded
the case for a determination of whether the State met its burden of
disproving self-defense.  On remand, the District Court found that the State
had disproved self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.  The court found that
Ricky believed that the victim was about to use deadly force against him, but
that such belief was unreasonable.  Ricky moved for findings of fact and
conclusions of law.  The District Court denied Ricky's motion, concluding
that its previously issued findings were sufficient.  This appeal followed the
denial of Ricky's unsuccessful appeal to the Superior Court.
	[¶4]  In contending that the trial court erred in finding that the victim
was not about to use deadly force against him, Ricky relies on the testimony
of Dr. Henry Ryan, a former State medical examiner, who described how a
fistfight can result in serious injury or death.  When, as here, the Superior
Court acts as an appellate court, we review the findings of the District Court
directly.  Bell v. Bell, 1997 ME 154, ¶ 2, 697 A.2d 835, 836.  The trial
court's finding that deadly force was not about to be used on Ricky is a
finding of fact that will be upheld unless clearly erroneous.  See State v.
Bartlett, 661 A.2d 1107, 1108 (Me. 1995).  A trial court's factual finding is
clearly erroneous only if it is supported by no competent evidence.  Id.
	[¶5]  We have made clear that "[a] factfinder is entitled to believe
some parts of witness testimony to the exclusion of others.  It has the
prerogative to selectively accept or reject testimony and to combine such
testimony in any way."  Id. at 1108 (citations omitted).  The District Court
could have found Dr. Ryan's testimony on the danger that may arise from
fistfights to be credible and accurate, and still have concluded that deadly
force was not about to be used against Ricky.  Ricky's contention that deadly
force is present in all fistfights could lead to the undesirable result that
because a punch could cause a variety of serious harms, anyone threatened
with a punch would be justified in using deadly force to defend himself.  We
reject that premise.   Several witnesses in this case testified to the effect
that Ricky could have expected at most only a fistfight with the victim.  The
trial court determined that Ricky's belief that deadly force was about to be
used against him was recklessly held and therefore, not a reasonable belief
within the meaning of 17-A M.R.S.A. § 108.  That finding is not clearly
	[¶6]  Ricky also argues, in contending that the findings of the court
are insufficient, that the court's initial findings were void in their entirety,
even though the Superior Court's remand order requiring further findings
was directed only at the issue of self-defense.  He contends that the findings
of fact made after remand are insufficient to satisfy M. R. Crim. P. 23(c).{4} 
Whether factual findings issued prior to remand are void as to issues outside
the scope of the remand order is a question of law we review de novo.  State
v. O'Connor, 681 A.2d 475, 476 (Me. 1996). 
	[¶7]  To support his contention, Ricky relies on State v. Michaud,
1998 ME 251, 724 A.2d 1222, in which the trial court issued detailed
findings of fact.  The holding of Michaud, however, does not support Ricky's
argument.  We stated in Michaud that:
Rule 23(c) requires a trial court to make specific findings of fact
upon request.  However, Rule 23(c) does not require a court to
specify all the evidence it relied on in making its findings of
ultimate fact.  To the contrary, a court need only find as fact
each of the elements of the offense, in order to satisfy the
requirements of Rule 23(c).
Michaud, 1998 ME 251, ¶ 22, 724 A.2d at 1231 (citations omitted). 
	[¶8]  The findings of fact in the first judgment the District Court
issued in Ricky's case clearly set forth the court's finding of each element of
manslaughter.  The later findings made by the court after remand were
directed at the issue of self-defense, and left undisturbed all other factual
findings previously issued.  Accordingly, the court did not err in failing to
provide additional findings of fact and conclusions of law.  The factual
findings previously issued by the court provide a sufficiently detailed
recitation of the facts on which the court relied to find all the elements of
the crime, and, coupled with the findings made after remand, satisfy the
requirements of M.R. Crim. P. 23(c).
	The entry is:
			Judgment affirmed.
Attorneys for State: Andrew Ketterer, Attorney General Nancy Torreson, Asst. Attorney General Charles K. Leadbetter, Asst. Attorney General 6 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333-0006 Attorneys for defendant: Francis E. Bemis, Esq. Jefferson T. Ashby, Esq. Hardings Law Offices P O Box 427 Presque Isle, ME 04769
FOOTNOTES******************************** {1} . Title 17-A M.R.S.A. section 203(1)(A) (Supp. 1999) provides: "A person is guilty of manslaughter if that person . . . recklessly or with criminal negligence, causes the death of another human being." {2} . Title 15 M.R.S.A. section 3103(1)(A) (Supp. 1999) delineates juvenile crimes as those that would be criminal if committed by an adult, including conduct proscribed by title 17-A. {3} . Physical force in defense of a person . . . 2. A person is justified in using deadly force upon another person: A. When the person reasonably believes it is necessary and reasonably believes such other person is: (1) About to use unlawful, deadly force against the person or a 3rd person . . . . 17-A M.R.S.A. § 108 (Supp. 1999). Deadly force is defined as "physical force which a person uses with the intent of causing, or which he knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury." 17-A M.R.S.A. § 2(8) (1983). {4} . M. R. Crim. P. 23(c) states: "In a case tried in the Superior Court without a jury the Court shall make a general finding and shall in addition on request find the facts specially. If an opinion or memorandum of decision is filed, it will be sufficient if the findings of fact appear therein."