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Minnesota appeals court rejects Kandiyohi County challenge to probation sentence

The Minnesota Court of Appeals found the Kandiyohi County District Court did not err when finding Franky Torres "particularly amenable" to probation and allowing him to serve probation instead of prison.

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WILLMAR — The Minnesota Court of Appeals has upheld a district court’s departure from sentencing guidelines that allowed a defendant to serve probation rather than go to prison.

In a decision released June 27, the court affirmed the sentence issued Sept. 1, 2021, to Franky Esquivel Torres, 35, formerly of Willmar, for a first-degree drug conviction in Kandiyohi County. The Kandiyohi County District Court stayed a presumptive 85-month prison sentence and ordered that he serve 10 years of probation.

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Franky Esquivel Torres
Custody photo

The sentence was a downward departure from the state sentencing guidelines. Kandiyohi County Attorney Shane Baker filed an appeal challenging the downward departure.

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The Tribune publishes Records as part of its obligation to inform readers about the business of public institutions and to serve as a keeper of the local historical record. All items are written by Tribune staff members based on information contained in public documents from the state court system and from law enforcement agencies. It is the Tribune’s policy that this column contain a complete record. Requests for items to be withheld will not be granted.
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The Court of Appeals ruled that the district court did not err when it found that Torres was “particularly amenable to probation” and allowed him to serve probation. Torres had completed “medium-intensity” residential treatment and was working full-time in Moorhead. He requested the downward departure as an addict in full compliance with primary and aftercare treatment, according to the ruling.

In the appeal, the county attorney argued that the court had based its downward departure on a pretrial release decision that had furloughed Torres to participate in treatment. The attorney cited a statement by the court at sentencing that “to me, it comes down to the decision I made earlier.”

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The Court of Appeals found that the district court did not base its decision on the pretrial decision. When viewed in context, the statement reflected the district court’s assessment that the defendant’s conduct since his release “is evidence of his ability to be successful in chemical-dependency treatment.”

Torres had pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree controlled substance. He was charged for selling 22.2 grams of methamphetamine to a confidential informant in Willmar on Feb. 18, 2020. Charges in other open files were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

He has prior convictions for third-degree drug possession, domestic abuse, obstructing the legal process, driving after suspension and depriving a parent of custody.

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoors reporter for the West Central Tribune.
He has been a reporter with the West Central Tribune since 1993.

Cherveny can be reached via email at tcherveny@wctrib.com or by phone at 320-214-4335.
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