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State v. Turner

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

June 9, 2015

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
ERIC O. TURNER

Session Date April 21, 2015

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Sumner County No. CR63-2013 Dee David Gay, Judge

Lance A. Wray, Hendersonville, Tennessee (on appeal), and David Allen Doyle, District Public Defender, and Mike Anderson, Assistant District Public Defender (at trial), for the Appellant, Eric O. Turner

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Lawrence Ray Whitley, District Attorney General; and Jayson Criddle, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

John Everett Williams, delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Alan E. Glenn and Roger A. Page, JJ., joined.

OPINION

JOHN EVERETT WILLIAMS, JUDGE

The defendant entered his guilty pleas to three counts of aggravated statutory rape on April 4, 2013. At the plea hearing, the prosecutor stated that the factual basis for the plea was the thirty-eight-year-old defendant's three-month-long sexual relationship with a fourteen-year-old neighbor. The defendant was immediately released to supervised probation and credited with the time he had served in prison. One of the conditions of the defendant's probation was that he have no contact with any unrelated minor.

At the defendant's probation revocation hearing, his probation officer, Tammy Wright, testified that the defendant came to her office on the morning of April 5, 2013, having been released from prison the previous night. The defendant completed, initialed, and signed the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation sexual offender instructions form, which outlined certain restrictions, including that "no sexual offender . . . whose victim was a minor shall knowingly reside with a minor." The form notes exceptions in certain cases for the offender's own children or step-children. Ms. Wright testified that the defendant was legally blind and that she orally reviewed all the forms that he signed with him.

During the April 5th meeting, the defendant filled out a sexual offender "Registration / Verification / Tracking" form and a monthly reporting form. Ms. Wright testified that some of the defendant's information was in the computer from a prior offense and that she updated the tracking document with information that the defendant orally conveyed to her. The defendant listed two addresses: the address of his mother as a primary address and the address of his girlfriend, Amanda Dowlen, as a secondary address. Ms. Wright stated that she explained to the defendant that a residence where he spent five consecutive nights was a primary residence. Ms. Wright testified that the defendant informed her that there were children living at the secondary address that he had given. Because the defendant was not permitted to reside with minors who were not his biological children, Ms. Wright questioned the defendant, and the defendant assured her that Ms. Dowlen's children were his biological children. Ms. Wright testified, "I went over it more than once to be sure that he understood biological children because he had also stated he had some children in Kentucky."

The defendant signed a printout of the tracking form. The monthly reporting form, which was completed at the same time, had a notation handwritten at the bottom: "16 years – Girl, " "6 years – Boy, " and "Mother – Amanda Dowlen." Ms. Wright testified that she wrote these notes after the defendant informed her that children were living at his girlfriend's address. She acknowledged not writing on the monthly report that the children in the residence were biologically related to the defendant. Ms. Wright put a global positioning system (GPS) monitor on the defendant.

On April 10, 2013, the defendant returned to Ms. Wright's office, and he completed additional forms required by the sexual offender registry. The defendant also signed a general probation order stating that he would "obey the laws of the United States, or any State in which [he might] be, as well as any municipal ordinances." Ms. Wright testified that she reviewed the requirements of the registry with the defendant. Ms. Wright acknowledged not having put any address for the defendant in the space at the bottom of the probation order. However, she denied that the defendant had told her during this meeting he was having trouble with his address.

On April 11, 2013, Ms. Wright received a phone call from an administrator at the jail informing her that the defendant had been released and confirming that he was on the registry. Ms. Wright informed the caller that the defendant had been to her office, that his primary residence was with his mother, and that his secondary residence was with Ms. Dowlen and their biological children. As a result of the call, Ms. Wright contacted her supervisor, Laura Lisk, to inform her that the defendant might be residing with minors who were not biologically related to him.

After coordinating with law enforcement, Ms. Wright and Ms. Lisk conducted a home visit at Ms. Dowlen's home sometime before 10:00 a.m. on April 15, 2013. The defendant answered the door and woke Ms. Dowlen. Ms. Wright and Ms. Lisk testified that the home was a duplex which contained a kitchen/living area, one bedroom, and one bath. In the living area were a couch and a daybed or futon. Ms. Wright testified that the futon had bedclothes on it and was unmade as though someone had recently slept there but she could not tell if someone had slept on the couch. Ms. Lisk testified that the futon bed was unmade and looked as though it had been slept in; there were bed pillows on the couch. Ms. Lisk saw a stack of girls' or women's clothing by the couch and a stack of small boys' clothing by the futon. Neither Ms. Lisk nor Ms. Wright noticed any toys in the residence.

Ms. Wright and Ms. Lisk questioned Ms. Dowlen about the defendant's presence and his relationship to the children. Ms. Dowlen informed them that the defendant was not the children's biological father. At that point, the defendant interrupted to say he was their step-father. However, the defendant and Ms. Dowlen had never been married. Ms. Dowlen was not aware of the disposition of the defendant's charges for aggravated statutory rape. When asked about the location of the children, Ms. Dowlen told the probation officers that the children were in school. Neither the defendant nor Ms. Dowlen ever told the probation officers that the children were not residing in the home at the time. Ms. Wright testified that the officers oversaw the defendant's departure. The defendant later called Ms. Wright ...


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