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State v. Adams

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

March 8, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
JUSTIN DANIEL ADAMS

          Assigned on Briefs February 15, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Lawrence County No. 33063 J. Russell Parkes, Judge

         The Defendant, Justin Daniel Adams, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, agreeing to an out-of-range sentence of eight years. The parties agreed to allow the trial court to determine the manner of service of his sentence. After a hearing, the trial court ordered that the Defendant serve his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied him an alternative sentence and that his judgment form should be amended to reflect applicable pretrial jail credit.[1] We affirm the trial court's judgment. We remand the case to the trial court for the entry of an amended judgment that reflects the Defendant's applicable pretrial jail credit.

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

          Claudia S. Jack, District Public Defender; Brandon E. White, Columbia, Tennessee (on appeal); and Robert H. Stovall, Jr., Assistant District Public Defender, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Justin Daniel Adams.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Brent A. Cooper, District Attorney General; and Gary M. Howell, Assistant District Attorney 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 Timothy L. Easter, J., joined.

          OPINION

          ROBERT W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE

         I. Facts

          This case arises from the Defendant's placing two guns to the rib and temple of the victim on January 6, 2015. For his actions, a Lawrence County grand jury indicted the Defendant for aggravated kidnapping and unlawful possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. On January 4, 2016, the Defendant pleaded guilty to aggravated kidnapping, a Class B felony, in exchange for an eight-year, Range I, sentence, agreeing to allow the trial court to determine the manner in which he would serve that sentence. The State agreed to dismiss the firearm charge. On February 22, 2016, the Defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, averring that his guilty plea was unknowingly and involuntarily entered because he was not aware that the crime to which he pleaded guilty required the service of his sentence at 100%. The trial court granted the Defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea.

         On March 14, 2016, the Defendant pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, a Class C felony, agreeing to an out-of-range sentence of eight years. At the guilty plea hearing, the trial court ensured that the Defendant understood that, in exchange for his guilty plea to a lesser charge, he was agreeing to a Range II sentence of eight-years, even though he was considered a Range I offender, which carried an applicable sentencing range of three to six years. The trial court explained that the Defendant was so doing to avoid the possibility of having to serve his sentence at 100%. The trial court then ensured that the Defendant understood that the plea agreement contemplated that the trial court would determine the manner of service of the Defendant's sentence. The Defendant acknowledged that he understood the plea agreement and the out-of-range sentence. He then offered that he was pleading guilty because he had, in fact, committed the offense.

         The trial court held a sentencing hearing during which the parties presented the following evidence: The victim testified that he worked as a self-employed hairdresser in Loretto, Tennessee. The victim recalled that, on January 6, 2015, at around 2:00 or 3:00 p.m., he had finished with work and was cleaning out his car at a gas station located next door to the salon. An employee from the hair salon came toward him and said that there was a man who needed a haircut, and the victim saw the man to whom she was referring, the Defendant. The victim told the woman and the Defendant that he would be happy to do it. The Defendant asked the cost, and the victim told him $5.00. The Defendant said he had to call his mother and then proceeded to appear to text someone on the cellular phone in his possession. The Defendant then told him that he could not get a haircut at that time. The victim said that he did not detect any anger in the Defendant's demeanor at that point.

         The victim said that he returned to vacuuming his car and that the Defendant remained and struck up a conversation with him about a Loretto High School bumper sticker on the victim's car. He described this as casual conversation and said the two talked for between twenty and forty minutes. The Defendant then said to the victim that his mother had asked if the victim could give the Defendant a ride home so that the Defendant did not have to walk. The victim told the Defendant that he could give him a ride after he finished cleaning his car.

         The victim testified that, when he began driving the Defendant home, they headed north. The victim noticed the hilt of a "particular knife" that the Defendant had that looked like a knife that was similar to one the victim owned. The victim said he told the Defendant, "Hey, man, if I would have known you were armed like that, I don't know if I would have given you a ride." The victim said that he was not afraid at that point and was joking. The Defendant then pulled a gun and placed it to the right-side of the victim, near his ribs, and said, "[A]rmed like what? . . . [D]o you mean armed like this, mother f***er?" The victim said he was completely caught off guard by the change in the Defendant's demeanor. The Defendant then took a second gun out and placed it to the victim's temple and said, "[M]aybe like this, b**ch?" The victim said that he was afraid for his life.

         The victim testified that he began begging and pleading with the Defendant, asking him why he was doing this when the victim was giving him a ride home. The victim said he slowed the car, and the Defendant said, "[D]on't f***ing do it." The victim pulled over, stopped the car, pushed the gun away from his head, and jumped out of the car. He ran across the street to a Mapco gas station and asked the attendant to call 911. The victim said he remained at the gas station until law enforcement arrived.

         During cross-examination, the victim testified that, before he agreed to give the Defendant a ride, the Defendant told him that he lived on Commerce Street, which was "[n]ot very far" from the car wash. He said that the Defendant pulled out the weapons after the two had been in the car together for three or four minutes. The victim estimated that the weapons were pointed at him for approximately one to one-and-a-half minutes before he successfully stopped and exited his car. He agreed that the Defendant never fired a weapon at him.

         Okie Littrell, Jr., testified for the Defendant, saying that he lived close to the Mapco gas station located near these events. Mr. Littrell said that he had known the Defendant for five years and that, shortly before these events, the Defendant moved into an apartment near him. Mr. Littrell said that the Defendant was a "pretty timid boy, " whom had never given Mr. Littrell any problem. He found it hard to believe the events about which the victim testified. He found it unlikely that the Defendant would brandish a weapon and implausible that the Defendant could hold two weapons in the manner described by the victim.

         Mr. Littrell opined that the Defendant would not survive in jail. He said that the Defendant would not hurt anybody. He expressed no concern if the Defendant came back to live next to him, saying that he was ...


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