Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
Assigned on Briefs February 19, 2015
Appeal from the Criminal Court for Greene County No. 13CR384 John F. Dugger, Jr., Judge
Alex A. Chestnut, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Harry Joseph Chase.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; C. Berkeley Bell, District Attorney General; and Cecil Clayton Mills, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.
D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ. joined.
D. KELLY THOMAS, JR., JUDGE
On May 1, 2012, a Greene County grand jury returned an indictment charging the Defendant with two counts of attempted first degree murder and two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping. The charges arose from the shooting of Chastity Morton and Brian Shackleford on August 22, 2010. Ultimately, the trial court accepted the Petitioner's guilty pleas for two counts of criminal attempt to commit first degree murder and sentenced the Petitioner to seventeen years as a Range I offender at thirty-percent release eligibility.
I. Guilty Plea Submission Hearing
The trial court held a guilty plea submission hearing on September 4, 2012. At the hearing, the State did not present factual bases for the pleas; rather, the trial court accepted the facts set forth in the discovery materials, which were made part of the record. Those materials, largely in the form of police reports, revealed the following facts underlying the Petitioner's arrest.
On August 22, 2010, the Petitioner rode his motorcycle to the home of Ms. Morton and Mr. Shackleford, entered the house, and told both victims that he was going to kill them. The Petitioner refused to let the victims leave and threatened them with a gun. He then shot both victims multiple times with each victim sustaining a gunshot wound to the head. The Petitioner also suffered a gunshot wound to his left arm during the altercation.
Ms. Morton later identified the Petitioner as her assailant. On August 24, 2010, the Greeneville Police Department was notified that the Petitioner was at an attorney's office and wished to turn himself in. Shortly thereafter, he was taken into custody and received medical treatment for his gunshot wound at a local hospital.
At the guilty plea submission hearing, the Petitioner testified that he was forty-six years old and had a tenth-grade education. He testified that he was able to read and write with no difficulty. The Petitioner denied using any alcohol or drugs in the last twenty-four hours.
The Petitioner indicated that he was aware of the charges against him, as well as the potential range of punishment associated with those charges. He further indicated that he understood the elements underlying the charges and knew that the State carried the burden of proving each element beyond a reasonable doubt. The Petitioner testified that he understood that if he went to trial, the jury would be charged with lesser included offenses.
The trial court went over the rights that the Petitioner was waiving by pleading guilty, and the Petitioner indicated that he understood the rights he was guaranteed and that he was waiving those rights by pleading guilty. The Petitioner indicated that his lawyer had explained the "Waiver of Rights and Plea of Guilty" document, that he had read and understood the document, and that he had signed it. The trial court asked co- counsel whether it was "his case" or "[lead counsel's] case." Co-counsel indicated that "[they] both worked on it."
The Petitioner thereafter agreed that he was pleading guilty because he was guilty and that he was doing so freely and voluntarily. He denied being forced, threatened, or pressured into pleading guilty. When asked whether his guilty pleas were the result of negotiations between his lawyers and the District Attorney General's office, he answered, "Yes." He further ...