Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs October 25, 2016 at Knoxville
from the Circuit Court for Bedford County No. 18123 Forest A.
Durard, Jr., Judge.
Wesley Hall IV, Unionville, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Sedrick Darion Mitchell.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie
E. Price, Senior Counsel; Robert Carter, District Attorney
General; and Michael Randles, Assistant District Attorney
General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.
L. HOLLOWAY, JR., JUDGE.
Factual and Procedural Background
Defendant had been arrested previously in Bedford County for
sale of a Schedule II drug, possession of a Schedule II
controlled substance for resale, possession of a Schedule VI
controlled substance for resale, and possession of drug
paraphernalia. The Defendant was ordered to appear on January
27, 2015, in Bedford County General Sessions Court
("general sessions court") but failed to appear in
court. On August 15, 2015, the Bedford County Grand Jury
indicted the Defendant for one count of Class E felony
failure to appear in case number 18123.
subsequent trial in case number 18123, Lieutenant Kevin
Roddy, with the Bedford County Sheriffs Department, testified
that on January 9, 2015, Tim Miller, the Assistant Director
of the 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force
("DTF"), contacted him regarding the Defendant.
Assistant Director Miller asked Lieutenant Roddy to conduct a
traffic stop on the Defendant in Shelbyville. Assistant
Director Miller and Tim Lane, the Director of DTF, then gave
Lieutenant Roddy a warrant relating to general sessions case
number 103079 to arrest the Defendant for sale of a Schedule
II drug. Lieutenant Roddy identified the warrant at trial,
and the trial court admitted the warrant into evidence.
Lieutenant Roddy testified that, after he arrested the
Defendant, he took the Defendant to the judicial
commissioner's office to set a bond amount and a date for
the Defendant's court appearance. Lieutenant Roddy stated
that the front of the Defendant's arrest warrant
displayed the date of the Defendant's court appearance,
January 27, 2015. Additionally, Lieutenant Roddy testified
that he prepared a Bedford County Sheriffs Department
prisoner fact sheet for the Defendant during the meeting with
the judicial commissioner, which also reflected the
Defendant's next court date. Lieutenant Roddy read the
warrant aloud to the Defendant, including the appearance
date, and made a copy of the warrant for the Defendant. The
judicial commissioner asked the Defendant if he had any
questions about his court date, the bond, or his charges, and
the Defendant had no questions.
Director Miller testified that he was employed by the Bedford
County Sheriffs Department and had been assigned to the DTF
for over fifteen years. He stated that he contacted
Lieutenant Roddy on January 9, 2015, and asked him to stop
the Defendant's vehicle. He then met Lieutenant Roddy and
gave him an arrest warrant for the Defendant. Assistant
Director Miller served additional arrest warrants for
possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a Schedule II
controlled substance for resale, and possession of a Schedule
VI controlled substance for resale on the Defendant later
that day. Assistant Director Miller testified that the three
additional warrants and the prisoner fact sheet prepared
during the Defendant's meeting with the judicial
commissioner all displayed the date that the Defendant was
scheduled to appear in general sessions court for case number
103079. Assistant Director Miller stated that he explained to
the Defendant that his court appearance was set for January
27, 2015, but accidentally stated that the appearance was at
9:00 p.m. Assistant Director Miller testified that the
Defendant corrected him that the appearance was set for 9:00
a.m., not p.m. On redirect examination, Assistant Director
Miller clarified that he had one warrant served on the
Defendant and personally served three other warrants on the
Defendant on January 9, all of which displayed the
Defendant's court date set for January 27, 2015. He
identified the three additional warrants and the trial court
admitted them into evidence.
Debowsky, the owner of Debo's Bail Bond Company,
testified that his company "bonded out" the
Defendant on January 14, 2015. Mr. Debowsky testified that he
arranged for three individuals to co-sign on the
Defendant's bond. Mr. Debowsky stated that the Defendant
signed a bonding contract with his company, which displayed
the date for the Defendant's court appearance. Mr.
Debowsky noted that one of the conditions that the Defendant
agreed to under the bonding contract was to appear in court.
Mr. Debowsky also testified that he attempted to contact the
Defendant to remind him of his upcoming court appearance, but
he could not reach the Defendant at any of the phone numbers
that the Defendant provided to him. Mr. Debowsky then
contacted the Defendant's wife, who did not know where
the Defendant was living. Lastly, Mr. Debowsky testified that
both he and the Defendant signed the appearance bond, which
also displayed the Defendant's court date.
Director Tim Lane testified that, as part of his duties as
Director, he was "responsible for the tracking of
criminal cases in the court system." Director Lane
stated that on January 9, 2015, he was present at the traffic
stop when Assistant Director Miller gave Lieutenant Roddy an
arrest warrant for the Defendant. Director Lane later learned
that the Defendant's court appearance had been set for
January 27, 2015, and on that day, Director Lane attended
general sessions court. Director Lane did not see the
Defendant in court, and the Defendant did not respond when
the general sessions judge called his name. On February 6,
2015, Director Lane found the Defendant at a hotel in Bedford
County. Director Lane testified that when he asked the
Defendant why he did not appear in court the Defendant stated
that "he decided not to go to court because he was
afraid he was going to get arrested." The jury found the
Defendant guilty of failure to appear.