Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs February 10, 2015.
Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2011C2668 Cheryl A. Blackburn, Judge.
David Harris, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Evan Kenyon Knox.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Jeff Burks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.
Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Robert L. Holloway, Jr. and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.
THOMAS T. WOODALL, PRESIDING JUDGE.
Guilty plea hearing
On August 21, 2012, Defendant entered a guilty plea to the lesser-included offense of second degree murder. At the plea submission hearing, the trial court asked Petitioner if his trial counsel had explained to Petitioner that he was "agreeing to a thirty-year sentence, which is a little higher than the range [and that] Count 2 [was] being dismissed." The trial court also asked Petitioner if he understood that he was pleading guilty to a lesser-included offense of the charged offense. Petitioner answered affirmatively. The following exchange occurred:
THE COURT: . . . . I now have a petition that tells me you want to enter a plea to a lesser offense of murder in the second degree, which is a knowing killing of another individual. It's going to be a thirty-year sentence at a hundred percent because the law requires that murder in the second degree be served at a hundred percent. Now, though it is a – when we're talking about – you're kind of pleading out of range. What that means is if you had gone to trial and been convicted of murder in the second degree as a lesser offense, your range of punishment would have been fifteen to twenty-five years. But in order to kind of arrange this agreement you've agreed to go up to thirty years just so that you would get convicted of murder in the second degree. Did you understand that?
[PETITIONER]: Yes, ma'am.
THE COURT: Okay. So it's a little higher punishment than you would have gotten if you would have been convicted of murder in the second degree. But at the same time it's not being convicted of murder in the first degree.
The trial court further explained that Petitioner's other charge would be dismissed and that if he was convicted of the second charge at trial, it carried a sentence of ten years. The trial court asked Petitioner,
Now, have you thoroughly discussed everything about your case with [trial counsel]? By that I mean have you gone over all the discovery in this case, any defenses you might have if you had any, or any witnesses that you might call to [testify at] trial. I just want to make sure you've thoroughly discussed everything about your case.
Petitioner answered affirmatively. Petitioner stated that he could read and that he had started his freshman year in college. He stated that he and trial counsel had read the plea agreement together. The trial court asked if Petitioner had any questions about the plea agreement, and Petitioner asked about a prior five-year sentence. The trial court explained that his sentence in this ...