Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Session Date February 10, 2015
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Rutherford County Nos. F68537, F68538 Mitchell Keith Siskin, Judge
Drew Justice, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, George A. Mikita.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; Bret T. Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
TIMOTHY L. EASTER, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which THOMAS T. WOODALL, P.J., and ROBERT L. HOLLOWAY, JR., J., joined.
TIMOTHY L. EASTER
Factual and Procedural Background
Defendant was indicted by the Rutherford County Grand Jury in two separate cases in September of 2012. He was charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, and theft of property valued at $1, 000 or more in case number F68537. In case number F68538, Defendant was charged with aggravated burglary, theft of property valued at $500 or more, and vandalism. Defendant entered an open plea to aggravated burglary in each case, theft of property valued at $1, 000 or more in case number F68537, and to theft of property valued at $500 or more in case number F68538. The remaining counts were dismissed.
At the guilty plea hearing, counsel for the State recounted the basic facts which gave rise to the indictments. In case number F68537, Defendant was indicted for crimes committed on June 6, 2012, at the home of Mary Melvin. Defendant entered the home, and when the victim tried to leave, he forced her into her bedroom while he stole several items and then fled the scene. On the same day, Defendant entered the home of Mary Harmon, stole several of her personal belongings, and fled the scene. Defendant was located because he used the cell phone he stole from Mrs. Melvin.
At the sentencing hearing, Mrs. Harmon testified that someone broke into her home through her garage on June 6, 2012. Her television and coin containers were missing, along with a silver and pearl rosary. The rosary was a gift from her parents upon her graduation from nurse training. None of the stolen items were recovered and were valued at $802 by the insurance company. As a result of the burglary, Mrs. Harmon changed the locks at her home and insisted on carrying her cell phone with her at all times.
Mrs. Melvin also testified at the sentencing hearing. She was taking a nap on the afternoon of June 6, 2012, when she heard a soft knock on the door. Her dogs were barking. She thought at first that her son had forgotten his house key but soon realized that was not the case when she confronted Defendant in the hallway. Defendant was carrying her personal computer and work computer. Defendant informed the victim that his friend let him into the house and that his aunt lived in the house. Defendant was asked to leave. He refused. Mrs. Melvin tried to call 911, but Defendant took her phone. Mrs. Melvin tried to leave, but Defendant grabbed her by the arms and prevented her from leaving. He dragged her down the hallway and pushed her onto the bed. Defendant stood in the doorway of the bedroom and prevented her from leaving the room. Defendant asked Mrs. Melvin personal questions about her family and her possessions. He also threatened Mrs. Melvin, claiming that he would come back to burn down the house because he knew where she lived. Mrs. Melvin eventually convinced Defendant that she would stay put if he left her house. He finally agreed and left the house. Mrs. Melvin suffered bruises from the incident as well as the loss of her personal computer, work computer, telephone, and cash. The tangible items were valued at over $1, 000. As a result of the burglary, Mrs. Melvin had a security system installed in her home and underwent eight weeks of counseling to manage anxiety attacks and nightmares.
Detective Kristy Inglish of the Murfreesboro Police Department testified that in 2012, there were 919 aggravated burglaries in Murfreesboro.
Defendant testified that he was seeking money to support his drug problem. He admitted that he was on parole at the time of the crimes and had recently quit his job to help babysit his girlfriend's children. Defendant smoked marijuana and took opiates and heroin every day. He explained that he started using drugs when he was sixteen years of age and had attempted rehab several times but had not successfully completed a program of drug treatment. He expressed remorse for the incident and insisted that he did not intend to hurt anyone.
Defendant's presentence report indicated that Defendant was a twenty-five-year-old male with the following convictions from Sullivan County, Tennessee: two prior convictions for aggravated burglary, one conviction for theft of property valued at $1, 000 or more, and one conviction for theft of property valued at $500 or more. With regard to these convictions from Sullivan County, Defendant received a four-year sentence that was suspended to supervised probation. Defendant's probation was revoked due to technical violations. When Defendant was released from custody in January of 2009, his probation was reinstated and his supervision transferred to Pennsylvania via interstate compact. In June of 2010, Defendant was declared an absconder. According to the presentence report, Pennsylvania closed interest in the case and a warrant for a violation of probation was issued in Tennessee. Defendant was then arrested in Pennsylvania for burglary, criminal trespassing, and theft. The Tennessee violation of probation warrant was amended. Defendant was convicted of burglary in Pennsylvania and sentenced to serve between eleven months and fifteen days to one year and eleven months in prison. In March of 2011, Defendant was transported back to Tennessee where his probation was ...