Fahey’s life sentence stands
OLIVIA --The Minnesota Court of Appeals has rejected an appeal by Matthew Fahey, 29, to reduce the length of his sentence for the May 2010 sexual assault and kidnapping of a 14-year-old newspaper carrier in Fairfax.
OLIVIA -The Minnesota Court of Appeals has rejected an appeal by Matthew Fahey, 29, to reduce the length of his sentence for the May 2010 sexual assault and kidnapping of a 14-year-old newspaper carrier in Fairfax.
The court released its opinion on Monday.
Fahey, originally of Fairfax, is serving a life sentence under which he is not eligible for parole until he serves a minimum of 404 months in prison, nearly 34 years. Sentencing guidelines require a life sentence for sexual assault when a kidnapping is also part of the offense. The district court had also found that the crime included “heinous” elements, a finding that doubled the amount of time Fahey must serve before being eligible for parole, based on sentencing guidelines.
About three years after his conviction, on March 20, 2013, a court civilly committed Fahey as mentally ill. He is currently incarcerated at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater, according to the Department of Corrections.
In his appeal, Fahey argued that the different attorneys who represented him in the trial and a subsequent appeal were ineffective. He also argued that his subsequent diagnosis of mental illness represented a mitigating factor or newly discovered evidence that would warrant a review of the sentence.
A three-judge panel considered the appeal. Justices Renee Worke and John Rodenberg supported the decision to reject the appeal.
The Chief Judge of the Appeals Court, Edward Cleary, authored a dissenting opinion. While concurring in part with the other justices, Cleary was sympathetic to Fahey’s claim that his counsel had been ineffective.
Judge Cleary pointed out that Fahey’s attorney at the time of sentencing had failed to argue that a mental impairment justified a lesser sentence. The appeals court justice also faulted Fahey’s attorney for not having challenged the enhanced sentence on direct appeal.
Cleary wrote in his dissenting opinion that “ … there is a reasonable probability that this court would have held that the extreme sentences were disproportional to the offenses and would have ordered modification of the sentences.”
The dissenting opinion does not challenge the district court’s actions in sentencing, and notes that the court did not abuse its discretion.
The district court had found Fahey’s actions during the crime did not show any mental impairment that made him unable to control his actions.
His conduct showed presence of mind and intent, and the evidence also showed that his impairment could have been due to controlled substance use and not due to mental illness, Cleary noted in the opinion.
Fahey can appeal the sentence to the Minnesota Supreme Court.