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State v. Bennett

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

December 12, 2016


          Assigned on Briefs November 8, 2016

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2011-D-2978 Seth Norman, Judge

         The Defendant, Candace Renee Bennett, pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated child neglect in exchange for an agreed eight-year sentence. The trial court ordered that the Defendant serve her sentence on probation and that her sentence run concurrently with a sentence in another case. The Defendant filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 contending that her sentence was illegal. She asked to withdraw her guilty plea and have the charges dismissed. The trial court denied her motion. On appeal, the Defendant contends that her sentence is illegal because it is not authorized by, and directly contravenes the criminal responsibility statute. After review, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal Court Affirmed

          Chelsea Nicholson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Candace Renee Bennett.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Zachary T. Hinkle, Assistant Attorney General; Glenn R. Funk, District Attorney General; and Dan Hamm, Catrin Novak Miller and Brian Holmgren, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Alan E. Glenn, J., joined.



         I. Facts

         This case arises from injuries sustained by a child placed in a hot bathtub, which occurred between July 29, 2011, and August 2, 2011. On October 21, 2011, a Davidson County grand jury indicted the Defendant for one count of aggravated child neglect and four counts of being an accessory after the fact in aid of Jarico Levon Huey and Suzanne Ruth Wiley, both of whom were alleged to have committed felonies.

         The Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the indictment. In the motion, the Defendant's attorney asserted that there had been a hearing on a motion to reduce bond, and that the following were undisputed facts:

At the time of the indictment, the Defendant was on probation for unrelated cases in Division II, Criminal Court. A probation violation warrant was filed on January 6, 2012. This indictment and case was the sole basis for the violation. A hearing was held on February 16, 2012. At the hearing the lead detective for this case, Detective John Grubbs, testified. The Court made an Order with specific findings of fact regarding the violation. . . . Based on the testimony offered at these hearings and specific finding of fact made by the Honorable Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr., the Defendant offers the following undisputed facts in support of this Motion:
Detective John Grubbs is the lead detective on this case. He is with the Youth Services Department with the Metro Nashville Police Department. He was assigned to this case to investigate allegations of a victim's burn injuries. He was contacted on August 2, 2011 by Vanderbilt Hospital in regards to the victim. He testified that the victim in this case, [M.D.][1], who was roughly one year and seven months old at the time, had sustained second degree and third degree burns while in the car of her mother, Suzanne Wiley, and her mother's boyfriend, Jarico Huey. Detective Grubbs could not say when the injury occurred, but based on his investigation, he believed the injury occurred on July 29, 2011. The statements of Suzanne Wiley and Jarico Huey indicate that the baby's injuries occurred while she was severely burned in the bathtub. The Defendant . . . was not present when this occurred.
The baby was burned in the bathtub at the mother, Suzanne Wiley's apartment located [in] . . . Nashville, TN . . . where the mother resided with the baby. Jarico Huey, the mother's boyfriend, resided [on] . . . 1st Avenue South, Nashville, TN . . . [with] the Defendant . . . and codefendants: Doris Buford, Donald Higgins, and Karen Higgins Huey. Doris Buford is Jarico Huey's grandmother. Donald Higgins is Jarico Huey's brother, and was at the time, the Defendant's boyfriend. Karen Higgins Huey is Jarico Huey's mother. The Defendant was renting a room in this house from Doris Buford, which she shared with Donald ...

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