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In re Cheyanna B.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

December 29, 2016

IN RE: CHEYANNA B.

          Assigned on Briefs December 2, 2016

         Appeal from the Juvenile Court for Jefferson County No. 16-00113 Dennis "Will" Roach, II, Judge

         John B. ("Father") appeals the order of the Juvenile Court for Jefferson County ("the Juvenile Court") terminating his parental rights to the minor child Cheyanna B. ("the Child") after finding and holding that grounds for termination for abandonment by wanton disregard pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(1) and Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-102(1)(A)(iv) were proven by clear and convincing evidence and that it was proven by clear and convincing evidence that termination was in the Child's best interest. We find and hold that the evidence does not preponderate against the Juvenile Court's findings made by clear and convincing evidence, and we affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Juvenile Court Affirmed Case Remanded

          Daniel Hellman, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, John B.

          Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; and M. Cameron Himes, Assistant Attorney General for the appellee, State of Tennessee Department of Children's Services.

          D. MICHAEL SWINEY, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which W. NEAL MCBRAYER and BRANDON O. GIBSON, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          D. MICHAEL SWINEY, CHIEF JUDGE

         Background

         In February of 2016, the State of Tennessee Department of Children's Services ("DCS") filed a petition seeking to terminate the parental rights of Father and Sheila B. ("Mother")[1] to the Child. The case proceeded to trial in June of 2016.

         Father testified that at the time of trial he was incarcerated at Carter County Work Camp at Northeast where he has been since November of 2014. Father testified: "I made bond and I was out about two weeks and they picked me up on my parole violation." Father admitted that his arrest in November of 2014 was for kidnapping. He pled guilty to the kidnapping charge in April of 2015, and received a three year sentence to run concurrent with time he already was serving. Father testified that he had six months more to serve because he would "flatten out."

         Father admitted that the Child was in the vehicle with him when Father kidnapped his girlfriend. Father is aware that news of the kidnapping and the fact that the Child was with him when he committed the crime was on the news. Father stated: "I had full custody of her. What was I supposed to do with her?"

         Father admitted that he has prior felony convictions. He also admitted that he is aware that his engaging in criminal behavior could result in his incarceration. Father, however, continued to engage in criminal behavior after the Child's birth. In 2005, Father was convicted of theft over one thousand dollars, multiple counts of theft over five hundred dollars, identity theft, false reports, and joyriding. He was sentenced to two years served and eight years of probation for a total of ten years with the Tennessee Department of Correction ("TDOC"). In February of 2010, Father was convicted for failure to appear and aggravated assault. Those charges added four years to his TDOC sentence. In March of 2010, Father was convicted of three counts of forgery, two counts of fraudulent use of credit cards, and identify theft and received a four year sentence.

         In January of 2015, Father posted bond after the kidnapping. Father was asked if at that time he pled guilty to domestic assault, and he stated:

I posted bond like two hours after I got to the jail. . . . When I, when I posted bond down there on the twenty thousand dollar bond, I made bond. And Jefferson County had a hold on me. But Knox County released me without letting them know. And as soon as I got to my residence, Jefferson County was sitting there. And I already knew. And I surrendered to them and they brought me for the domestic because the domestic occurred in Jefferson County. That's when it started is the domestic. And then she got in the vehicle with me and we went to Knoxville. And then she dialed 911 and they, and they pulled me over for kidnapping.

         Father pled guilty to two counts of domestic assult. In November of 2015, Father pled guilty to another charge of theft over a thousand. When Father was asked if he believed that his repeated incarceration had a negative effect on the Child, Father stated: "Yes, I do." Father admitted that despite believing this he continued to engage in criminal activity.

         Father admitted that he has used drugs. He stated: "That's what I'm in prison for. Or, you know, that's what's caused me to go to prison. . . . Because, you know, taking medication, over - - overdoing the taking medication." Father admitted to using Oxymorphone and Oxycontin. He stated that he had obtained them from a pain clinic.

         The Child is Father's only child. Father admitted that he has been involved with DCS in the past. Father admitted that he never paid child support for the Child when he did not have custody of the child. Father stated: "I draw disability on the street." Father testified that the Child was in Father's mother's custody from 2008 to 2014. The Child was ...


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