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State v. Rutherford

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

December 13, 2016


          Assigned on Briefs October 25, 2016 at Knoxville

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Sequatchie County No. 2015-CR-79A Thomas W. Graham, Judge

         The defendant, Hayden Daniel Rutherford, appeals his Sequatchie County Circuit Court guilty-pleaded conviction of robbery, claiming that the trial court erred by ordering that he serve his six-year sentence in confinement. Discerning no error, we affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed

          B. Jeffrey Harmon, District Public Defender, for the appellant, Hayden Daniel Rutherford.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Robert W. Wilson, Assistant Attorney General; J. Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and Steve Strain, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          James Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Robert L. Holloway, Jr., and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.



         Originally charged with two counts of aggravated kidnapping and one count of aggravated robbery, all Class B felonies, the 18-year-old defendant pleaded guilty to a single count of the lesser included offense of robbery, a Class C felony, in exchange for a six-year sentence with the manner of service of the sentence to be determined by the trial court. The summary of facts provided by the State at the guilty plea submission hearing established that the defendant and co-defendants Logan Lepard, Anthony Kaufman, and Rebecca Lorine Shular, accosted the victim, Uriel Martinez, outside a party in Dunlap in retaliation for the victim's having robbed the defendant and Mr. Lepard several weeks earlier. Ms. Shular lured the victim outside, where the defendant and Mr. Lepard seized him at gunpoint, bound his hands and feet with duct tape, and forced him into the trunk of a car. The defendants then drove the victim to a second location on Signal Mountain, where they forced him out of the car, "assaulted him, took money from him, or his shoes" and then left the victim alone and barely conscious in the woods, still bound with duct tape. The victim was eventually able to free himself and get to a nearby highway, where he flagged down a passing driver.

         Following the guilty plea submission hearing, the defendant submitted to the trial court an application for judicial diversion.

         The presentence investigation report, which was exhibited to the December 2, 2015 sentencing hearing, established that the defendant, who had turned 18 only two months before committing the offenses against the victim, had juvenile adjudications dating back to shortly after he turned 12 years old. The defendant had never been employed, and he dropped out of high school after being arrested in this case. He admitted using marijuana on a regular basis and tested positive for the use of marijuana on November 3, 2015. The defendant reported that he lived with his mother and stepfather, but the defendant's mother would not allow the investigator inside the home for a home visit. The defendant also missed his initial appointment to be interviewed for the presentence report. The preparer of the report noted that the defendant "is a self[-]proclaimed musician/rapper" who "is also known as 423BOYZ and 'HDR.'" Music videos made by the defendant and attached to the report showed "the use and s[ale] of drugs." Audio recordings of the defendant's "music" were also included with the report. As noted by the preparer of the report, the introductory portion of one of the audio recordings "is a copy of a news feed concerning this case" and another "makes allegations and/or threats to the Sequatchie County Sheriff Ronnie Hitchcox, Officer Marlin Hobbs, Sequatchie County High School Faculty, and Sequatchie County Juvenile Officer, Kim Dean." Screen shots of the defendant's Facebook page appended to the report showed photographs depicting the use of drugs and messages of violence toward the police.

         At the hearing, Sequatchie County Sheriff's Detective Jody Lockhart testified that the sheriff's department had obtained a text message sent from the defendant's cellular telephone wherein the defendant had threatened to shoot a man named David Smith. Detective Lockhart also obtained messages from the defendant's Facebook account that included threats to harm Mr. Smith. Apparently, Mr. Smith had been involved in an altercation with a friend of the defendant's outside of a bail bonding company.

         The 18-year-old defendant admitted that he concocted the plan to kidnap the victim and rough him up as revenge for the victim's having robbed him of money and marijuana on his birthday. After learning that the victim was at a party in Dunlap, the defendant armed himself "to make things smoother. I figured he would subdue to a weapon more than if we didn't have a gun." The four defendants then went to Walmart, where they purchased duct tape with which they planned to bind the victim. They traveled to the party, where Ms. Shular, who was dating the defendant, lured the victim outside. The defendant held the victim at gunpoint, and then the co-defendants bound the victim's hands and feet and covered his eyes with duct tape. They forced the victim into the trunk of the car and then drove to a location on Signal Mountain selected by the defendant. At that location, the defendant forced the victim from the trunk and began to beat him with his hands, knocking him to the ground. The defendant then kicked and hit the victim while Mr. Lepard struck the victim with a tire iron. After the victim urinated on himself, the defendant decided that the victim had had enough, and he ordered the others to stop hitting the victim. The defendant said that he went through the victim's pockets with an intent to take money from the victim, but the victim had none. The defendant acknowledged that the victim's shoes came off during the attack, but he denied having taken the shoes. The defendants then left the victim, who was "definitely not fully conscious, " alone in the woods.

         The four defendants traveled to the home of Mr. Lepard's mother, where they "[d]ropped the guns off" and changed clothes. They then traveled to the trailer the defendant shared with Mr. Lepard, where they waited for Mr. Lepard's mother to pick them up. Ms. Lepard's mother picked up the men and took them to her home, where they went to ...

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