Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Session September 13, 2016
from the Circuit Court for Dickson County No.
22CC-2013-CR-749 David Wolfe, Judge
appeal, the defendant, Terry L. Brazzell, challenges the
denial of his pre-sentencing motion to withdraw his guilty
plea to one count of vehicular homicide and challenges his
Range II, 20-year sentence imposed for that conviction.
Discerning no error, we affirm.
R. App. P. 3; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed
J. Baker and William Walker Wade, Charlotte, Tennessee (on
appeal and motion to withdraw plea); and Jake Lockert,
District Public Defender, for the appellant, Terry L.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; David
H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Dan M. Alsobrooks,
District Attorney General; and Jack Arnold, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of
Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Robert L. Holloway, Jr., and Timothy L. Easter, JJ.,
CURWOOD WITT, JR., JUDGE.
Dickson County Grand Jury charged the defendant via
presentment with one count of vehicular homicide; second
offense driving under the influence ("DUI"); felony
reckless endangerment; simple possession of marijuana; simple
possession of Clonazepam, a Schedule IV controlled substance;
simple possession of Carisoprodol, a Schedule IV controlled
substance; simple possession of Diazepam, a Schedule IV
controlled substance; simple possession of morphine, a
Schedule II controlled substance; sixth offense driving while
his license was revoked; failure to obey a traffic control
device; and failure to comply with the financial
responsibility law arising out of a car accident caused by
the defendant on December 5, 2013. In exchange for the
State's agreement to dismiss the remaining charges, the
defendant entered a plea of guilty as a Range II offender to
vehicular homicide with the sentence to be determined by the
trial court. At the November 16, 2015 guilty plea submission
hearing, the prosecutor submitted the following factual basis
for the defendant's guilty plea:
Your Honor, on or about December 5, 2013, the [d]efendant was
driving here in Dickson County. Due to a large number of
primarily prescription medications in the [d]efendant's
system, he nodded off, ran through a stop sign and hit the
vehicle of Freddie Patterson, killing her.
conclusion of the hearing, the court, with the agreement of
the parties, scheduled the sentencing hearing for December
December 9, 2015, the defendant's original counsel filed
a motion to withdraw, citing as grounds that a witness to be
called by the State at the sentencing hearing was "a
longtime client of the Public Defender's Office." At
some point, the trial court appointed substitute counsel and,
following a request from substitute counsel, reset the
sentencing hearing for March 4, 2016. On March 3, 2016, the
defendant filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of
Criminal Procedure 32(f)(1) to withdraw his guilty plea. As
grounds for his motion, the defendant asserted his
"possible mental health issues and lack of understanding
of his plea."
answer to the defendant's motion to withdraw his plea,
the State observed that the defendant had waited until the
day before the sentencing hearing to file his motion and that
he had failed to establish a valid reason for failing to file
sooner. The State also observed that the defendant had not
asserted or maintained his innocence, that the trial court
had thoroughly explained the terms of the plea to the
defendant during the plea colloquy, that the transcript of
the colloquy indicated that the defendant understood the
terms of the plea and its ramifications, and that the
defendant's lengthy criminal history evidenced his
familiarity with the criminal justice system.
trial court denied the defendant's motion to withdraw his
plea after a hearing on March 4, 2016. On that same date, the
trial court, after conducting a sentencing hearing, imposed a
Range II sentence of 20 years for the defendant's
conviction of vehicular homicide.
defendant filed a timely notice of appeal, challenging both
the trial court's denial of his motion to withdraw his
guilty plea and the imposition of a 20-year sentence.
Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea
defendant first asserts that the trial court abused its
discretion by denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea.
The State contends ...