Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
Assigned on Briefs January 22, 2015
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Grainger County No. 5326 Richard R. Vance, Judge.
Pepper C. Bowser, Rutledge, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mark Allen Hill.
Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; James B. ("Jimmy") Dunn, District Attorney General; and George C. Ioannides, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.
D. KELLY THOMAS, JR., JUDGE
The Petitioner was originally charged with first degree murder and initiating the manufacture of methamphetamine. On November 28, 2011, the Petitioner entered an "open" guilty plea to the lesser-included offense of second degree murder, and the methamphetamine manufacturing charge was dismissed.
At the plea submission hearing, the trial court first reviewed with the Petitioner the various rights he was waiving by pleading guilty. The Petitioner then stated that no one had promised him anything in exchange for his plea, that he was satisfied with trial counsel's representation, that he was not under the influence of any intoxicant, and that he was pleading guilty freely and voluntarily. The Petitioner's prior criminal history was also discussed, including several felony convictions for habitual motor vehicle offender violations, and he was informed how convictions, both past and present, can be used to enhance subsequent sentences.
The State provided the following factual basis for the Petitioner's plea:
[D]uring the early morning hours of June 15, 2010, [the Petitioner] encountered Adam Kelley [("the victim")] at the home of Courtney Couch, . . . here in Grainger County in a portion of Bean Station . . . . When he encountered [the victim], the [Petitioner] took a knife and stabbed him twice in the ribs, once in the shoulder, and cut him on the left finger and left arm and a slight cut on the throat as well . . . . The [Petitioner], after inflicting those wounds, fled the scene, [and] left on foot . . . .
[The victim] went inside the residence where 911 was called. [The victim] was heard giving a dying declaration on the 911 recording system saying that [the Petitioner] had stabbed him. Life Star was called. He was transported to UT hospital. He later died on the operating room table, . . . approximately six hours after the stabbing, five to six hours after the stabbing.
Dr. Mileusnic conducted an autopsy. She would testify that two of the wounds to the ribs were fatal. One of those penetrated the heart causing a blood loss and loss of blood pressure resulting in his death . . . .
The investigators conducted the investigation. Agent Cephas, along with Detective Jarnigan, Detective Seals, [and] Sheriff Harville, interviewed the [Petitioner], . . . and he made statements that he did in fact stab him. He said it was in response to an attack by [the victim]. He said [the victim] came at him with a bag and a jar and swung at him first. That's what his statement said. When he was notified of the charges he made statements that statement to the officer was after a Miranda warning was issued . . . . He made some ...