Court of Appeals upholds district court decision in stalking case
The Minnesota Court of Appeals Monday, Jan. 6, upheld Crow Wing County District Court’s decision regarding a 68-year-old Crosby man convicted in 2016 of second-degree burglary and for stalking his neighbor.
Bradley D. Fordyce challenged the district court’s denial of his petition of post-conviction relief, arguing he should have been allowed to withdraw his guilty plea. The Court of Appeals affirmed the Brainerd district court’s decision as the Crosby man’s guilty pleas were accurate.
The decision was considered and decided by Chief Judge Edward J. Cleary and judges Renee L. Worke and Diane B. Bratvold.
Fordyce was charged April 2016 with second-degree burglary, stalking and interfering with his neighbor’s privacy by installing or using a surreptitious device. The neighbor called police to report two disturbing notes on her door from Fordyce. One stated, “If you don’t want to see me dance in my bikinis, then just don’t watch. Otherwise — enjoy the show. Brad.” The neighbor also reported other incidents involving Fordyce committing lewd acts.
Fordyce admitted he had videos of his neighbor inside her bedroom that he narrated while he watched her, and he admitted to putting notes on a door inside her screen porch. Inside Fordyce's home, officers located eight TV monitors connected to surveillance cameras. One of the cameras was pointed at the victim's window. Police found 40 short videos of him narrating his neighbor’s activity as he monitored her at her residence, and found over 100 other videos of her on his computer. In some of the videos, Fordyce described using infrared video to see into the victim's dark bedroom.
The Crosby man pleaded guilty to the burglary and stalking charges. An interfering with privacy count was dismissed. Fordyce entered Alford pleas, as he admitted to all the conduct, but did not believe necessarily that it should be illegal. He agreed the police reports and videos were part of the record and would be part of the plea. He also agreed the probable cause statement in the complaint could support the factual basis for the plea.
The court accepted Fordyce’s guilty pleas, and sentenced him to 28 months in prison for the burglary conviction, stayed for 10 years and with one year in jail served for the stalking conviction. When a sentence is stayed, it means if the person violates the terms of their probation, they may have to serve the original jail/prison sentence the judge imposed. Fordyce requested to withdraw his guilty pleas May 22, 2018, in a post conviction-relief petition, claiming they were not accurate. The district court denied Fordyce’s request and he appealed.
Fordyce argued the plea is not accurate because the record does not establish he entered his neighbor’s porch without her consent. He asserts she granted an “implicit license” to visitors, like himself, to enter her porch, the appeals court document stated.
The court of appeals stated his claims fail for several reasons, including the fact he cited search and seizure cases rather than burglary cases; a screened-in porch attached to the back of a house is a building, according to state burglary law; and Fordyce admitted to entering a building without consent.
Fordyce also admitted on the date he left the notes on the neighbor’s door, he had been watching her and went over after he saw her leave. Based on this record, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Fordyce’s petition for post-conviction relief because his guilty pleas are accurate, the appeal document stated.