Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs February 11, 2015
Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2009-D-3454 Seth W. Norman, Judge
Jordan Sluder, Madison, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jarod Marges Phillips.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Dan Hamm, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Robert L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Timothy L. Easter, J., joined.
ROBERT L. HOLLOWAY, JR., JUDGE
I. Factual and Procedural Background
Guilty Plea Proceedings
The Davidson County Grand Jury indicted the Petitioner for the following charges: Count 1: First Degree Premeditated Murder; Count 2: Especially Aggravated Robbery; and Count 3: First Degree Felony Murder. On January 25, 2012, the Petitioner entered a best interest guilty plea to Second Degree Murder as to Count 1. Counts 2 and 3 were dismissed. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the Petitioner was sentenced outside his range to 32 years in the Department of Correction as a Range II offender.
During the plea colloquy, the trial court informed the Petitioner of his rights to a trial by jury, to have representation during a trial, to require the State to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, to confront his accuser, to cross-examine witnesses, to maintain his innocence, to call his own witnesses, and to remain silent. The Petitioner affirmed that he understood these rights. He also stated that he was not suffering any mental illness and that he was not under the influence of any drug or narcotic. He confirmed that he was satisfied with the representation of trial counsel. The Petitioner affirmed that he understood the charges against him and their respective ranges of punishment. He confirmed that he had reviewed the Petition to Enter a Plea of Guilty with his attorney and that he understood it. He further stated that he signed the plea petition freely and voluntarily.
The State made the following offer of proof:
The victim in this case, Mr. Nathaniel Adefope, was a professor at the Tennessee State University Agriculture Resource Center. While employed there and while working at the facility here in Davidson County, [the Petitioner] went to that location as he was known . . . to the victim . . . as a person who also was employed at the TSU campus. They knew each other and an attempt to commit robbery took place upon the victim in the case, Mr. Adefope, and as a result of that the victim was killed. A struggle ensued apparently because there w[ere] also injuries done to [the Petitioner] in this case. DNA was found at the location which matched the victim and [the Petitioner].
Judge, on his plea of guilty to–I think he is going to plead this as a best interest plea of guilty of second degree murder. [The Petitioner] would also waive his range of punishment on that for a total sentence of 32 years at 100 percent.
The Petitioner affirmed the statement of facts as "basically true and correct." He confirmed that he understood the plea bargain, and he entered a guilty plea to Second Degree Murder. The court found there was a factual basis for the plea and that the plea was voluntarily entered. Consequently, it sentenced ...