Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs October 29, 2014
Appeal from the Criminal Court for Putnam County No. 10-0402 David Alan Patterson, Judge
Robert L. Vogel, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Travis Meadows.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; Randall A. York, District Attorney General; Gary McKenzie, Deputy District Attorney General; and Douglas E. Crawford, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Roger A. Page, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.
ROGER A. PAGE, JUDGE
Appellant was indicted on three counts of rape of a child, three counts of aggravated sexual battery, and one count of attempted rape of a child. At appellant's guilty plea submission hearing on two counts of attempted aggravated sexual battery, the State explained that the factual bases underlying appellant's convictions were that between June 22, 2006, and August 2007, appellant "took his hands and touched [the seven-year-old victim] in the genital area, as well as he attempted to penetrate her. . . . There is some issue on penetration or not. . . . And that is why, after much negotiation with defense counsel, we arrived where we are." The court accepted appellant's plea.
Prior to the guilty plea submission hearing, appellant filed a motion to suppress his statement made to law enforcement at a Department of Children's Services facility after the initial allegations were made by the victim. Appellant argued that appellant, who was at the time a minor, and his parents were not fully informed of appellant's Miranda rights and that the interview was conducted under false pretenses. Appellant argued that he was told that the interview was only for the purpose of understanding what occurred and getting him help if necessary, not for the purpose of building a case against him. However, after hearing the testimony at the motion to suppress hearing and watching the recording of appellant's interview, the trial court denied appellant's motion to suppress his statement.
Appellant attempted to reserve a certified question of law regarding the trial court's denial of the motion to suppress his statement when he pleaded guilty. It is clear from the record that both the State and the trial court were aware of appellant's intent in this regard. However, at the guilty plea submission hearing, the trial court acknowledged that if this court were to reverse the trial court's decision, there may be "some further sentencing" afterward. The State explained at the hearing that it was "silent as to whether [the certified question was] dispositive or not." Furthermore, appellant's plea petition referenced and incorporated the State's formal plea offer letter, which stated:
5. The State will agree to send up the certified question on the admission/confession issue. The State will not agree that is it [sic] dispositive as you stated in your letter dated February 1, 2013.
6. The State will not agree to a dismissal of the charge in the event of the appeals court overturns the trial court on the admission/confession issue.
7. The State will agree that if you win at the appellate level, our offer will be to plea to one count of Sexual Battery with a sentencing hearing. . . . This offer by the State would be subject to continued negotiation if you wish BUT only after a decision by the appeals court. You would be under no obligation to accept this offer of Sexual Battery but the State would be bound to offer it.
At the conclusion of the guilty plea submission hearing, the prosecutor and defense counsel stated that the wording of the certified question of law had not yet been finalized, and the trial court cautioned appellant that it would be up to him to properly draft the ...