Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division
IN THE MATTER OF THE CARE AND TREATMENT OF WILLIAM MURPHY
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Marion County. Honorable David C. Mobley.
FOR APPELLANT: Erika Renee Eliason, Columbia, MO.
FOR RESPONDENT: Chris Koster, Attorney General, Mary Highland Moore, Assistant Attorney General, Jefferson City, MO.
Kurt S. Odenwald, Presiding Judge. Robert G. Dowd, Jr., concurs. Gary M. Gaertner, Jr., concurs.
Kurt S. Odenwald, Presiding Judge.
Appellant William Murphy (" Murphy" ) appeals from the judgment of the Probate Division of the Circuit Court of Marion County (" the probate court" ) committing Murphy to secure confinement in the custody of the Department of Mental Health as a sexually violent predator (" SVP" ) pursuant to Sections 632.480 through 632.513. Murphy pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual abuse in 1983 and was sentenced to prison. On April 16, 2013, prior to Murphy's scheduled release from prison, the State filed a petition to have Murphy committed an SVP. On July 2, 2013, House Bill 215 (" HB 215" ) was signed into law amending the definition of a " sexually violent offense." Murphy subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the State's petition seeking to commit Murphy as an SVP. Murphy reasoned that at the time the State's petition was filed, first-degree sexual abuse was not a qualifying offense for purposes of commitment under Section 632.480. The probate court denied Murphy's motion to dismiss. On June 27, 2013, pursuant to a stipulation, the probate court entered a judgment committing Murphy to the Department of Mental Health as an SVP.
On appeal, Murphy contends the probate court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the petition because he did not qualify for commitment as an SVP. Specifically,
Murphy argues that first-degree sexual abuse was not a qualifying offense under Section 632.480(4) at the time the State filed its petition to have him committed. Murphy maintains that the subsequent amendment to the statute constitutionally could not be applied retroactively because the amendment was a substantive change in the law affecting his fundamental right to liberty. Because the legislature clearly intended that the amendments to the SVP statute apply retroactively, and because the retroactive application of the SVP statute is not unconstitutional, the probate court did not err in applying the amended statute to Murphy's case. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the probate court.
Factual and Procedural History
Murphy pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual abuse on September 20, 1983, and was sentenced to prison. Murphy was scheduled to be released from prison on May 2, 2013. On April 16, 2013, the State filed a petition pursuant to Sections 632.480 through 632.513 (" Missouri's SVP statute" ) to civilly commit Murphy as an SVP. The petition stated that Murphy had been convicted of first-degree sexual abuse and suffered from a mental abnormality that made him more likely than not to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if released.
Missouri's SVP statute establishes the process by which the State may civilly commit a person determined to be an SVP. Under the statute, an SVP is defined as " any person who suffers from a mental abnormality which makes the person more likely than not to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility and who... [h]as pled guilty or been found guilty in this state or any other jurisdiction... of a sexually violent offense. Section 632.480(5). Section 632.480(4) lists a number of offenses that qualify as " sexually violent offenses." In April of 2013, when the State filed its petition to commit Murphy as an SVP, Section 632.480(4) listed only " sexual abuse" among the qualifying offenses.
The probate court held a probable cause hearing on May 1, 2013. Dr. Amy Griffith, a psychologist with the Department of Corrections who evaluated Murphy, testified that Murphy met the criteria of an SVP because: (a) from 1972-2007, Murphy had been arrested or convicted for sexual offenses involving children on at least six different occasions, including a 1983 conviction in the Circuit Court of Marion County for two counts of first-degree sexual abuse for subjecting two children less than 12 years of age to sexual contact; (b) he suffered from a mental abnormality, namely pedophilia; and (c) he was more likely than not to sexually re-offend if not confined to a secure facility due to a combination of high risk scores on the actuarial instruments and factors unique to Murphy--including his own statements that he would possibly be attracted to children if released and had " hope" that he would be referred as an SVP because he could " use the help" to avoid sexually reoffending.
At the hearing, Murphy did not object to first-degree sexual abuse qualifying as a sexually violent offense under Section 632.480(4). At the conclusion of the hearing, the ...