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State v. Martin

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

January 30, 2015


Assigned on Briefs December 9, 2014

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Monroe County No. 12238Amy F. Reedy, Judge

Donald Leon Shahan, Jr., Madisonville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Chase Nathaniel Martin.

Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; Steve Bibb, District Attorney General; and Paul Moyle, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Alan E. Glenn, J., joined. Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., concurred in results only.



Factual Background

Defendant was indicted by the Monroe County Grand Jury for burglary of a building other than a habitation in August of 2012. On September 23, 2013, Defendant entered an open, best interest guilty plea to burglary. At the guilty plea hearing, the State gave the following factual basis for the plea:

On the 10th of June, 2012, [at] approximately 5:33 a.m.[, ] the Sweetwater Police Department was dispatched to an alarm coming from the Scrubs Store located in Sweetwater, Tennessee, off of Highway 68 in Monroe County. Officers arrived and noticed that the building was secured except for the rear door. The rear door appeared to have been pried open with damage to the outside casing and no perpetrator was present. In addition the security camera lens w[as] spray painted and the door was unsecured. The officers searched the interior of the store and discovered that the store was not ransacked or really even disturbed at all. The cash register was still intact and none of the money had been taken from the cash register. The Sweetwater Police then contacted the store owner and the store owner advised them that the large quantities of money that the store contains were located in another location. The officers were then told where that location was, they proceeded to search but weren't able to find any of the money or the bag as described by the business owner. Through the investigation Detective Kevin Watson of the Sweetwater Police Department spoke with the employees of the Scrub Store including a Joy Armstrong who stated that she believed that the person who broke into the business was her exboyfriend [Defendant]. She stated [Defendant] had been with her on numerous occasions when she was closing the store and that he had seen the location of numerous bank bags with quantities of U.S. currency as well as the manner in which [they were] stored. At that point [Detective] Watson issued a subpoena for [Defendant's] phone records, and in particular text messages. Text messages that were received from the cell phone carrier included text messages from [Defendant] saying, "Hey, I need to borrow a full face toboggan." "Hey, call me, I need to borrow a toboggan, please." He then sent another text message saying "I'm looking for a crowbar." Jess, who is [Defendant's] apparent girlfriend at the time, said, "For what though?" He then responded "I can't tell you that but I will talk about it when I get there, Sweetie." Et cetera, et cetera. The time line would indicate that those texts were placed immediately before the 5:33 a.m. break-in. [Defendant] was then interviewed at the Englewood Police Department and read his rights. [Defendant] stated that it was not him but that a Nathan Wood who needed some money and [Defendant] advised that he told Nathan where he could get the money and . . . where the security cameras were located. [Defendant] also advised that he gave Mr. Wood a crowbar and actually drove him to the store and dropped him off and later picked him up.

Defendant signed a waiver of appeal. On the form, it is specifically noted that "Defendant does not waive his right to appeal the sentence."

On December 10, 2013, the trial court held a sentencing hearing. At the hearing, a presentence report was entered into evidence. At the time of the hearing, Defendant was twenty-eight years of age. His prior convictions included: obtaining prescription drugs by fraud, driving with a suspended/cancelled/revoked license, possession of marijuana, possession of a schedule III controlled substance, unlawful drug paraphernalia uses and activities, driving with a revoked license, misdemeanor theft, possession of drug paraphernalia, two convictions for passing worthless checks, burglary of a property other than a habitation, and theft of property valued between $1, 000 and $10, 000. The State sought an enhanced sentence on the basis of Defendant's prior convictions.

Defendant's probation officer, Amanda Saylers, testified at the hearing. According to Ms. Saylers, Defendant had been on probation a total of five times. This included multiple reinstatements and revocations.

Defendant reported to Ms. Saylers that he had just completed a residential inpatient drug treatment program in Chattanooga on September 18, 2013. Despite completion of the inpatient program, Defendant reported to Ms. Saylers that on the weekend of September 28 and 29, 2013, he smoked "as much [marijuana] as he could smoke."

Jill Barrett, Director of the Tenth Judicial District Drug Court, testified that Defendant failed to complete the Drug Court Program in 2008 or 2009. As a result of the failure to complete the program, Defendant was eventually sent to the Department of Correction.

The State also presented the testimony of Detective Watson. He explained that Defendant initially denied his involvement in the crime. Defendant later called police and admitted that he was present but that he was not actually involved in the burglary. He supplied the name of the person he alleged was responsible. That person was never charged.

Defendant presented no proof at his sentencing hearing.

At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, counsel for Defendant asked the trial court to take Defendant's gang affiliation into account during sentencing. Specifically, trial counsel noted that Defendant was a member of the Aryan Nation but had declared his intention to split from that group, ...

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