Assigned on Briefs November 1, 2016
from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 13-00205 Lee V.
defendant, Sarita Alston, was sentenced to an effective
sentence of twenty-five years in confinement by the trial
court for the merged convictions of reckless endangerment,
aggravated child neglect, and aggravated child endangerment.
On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court
improperly enhanced her aggravated child neglect sentence to
the maximum within-range sentence of twenty-five years in
violation of the purposes and principles of the Tennessee
Criminal Sentencing Reform Act. Following our review of the
briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the
twenty-five year sentence.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
Woods, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sarita Alston.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Jonathan H. Wardle, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P.
Weirich, District Attorney General; and Carrie Shelton,
Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State
Ross Dyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
John Everett Williams and Camille R. McMullen, JJ., joined.
ROSS DYER, JUDGE
and Factual Background
January 17, 2013, the Shelby County grand jury returned an
indictment charging the defendant with one count of
aggravated child abuse, one count of aggravated child
neglect, and one count of aggravated child endangerment. The
following evidence was presented at trial.
Kyle Picciotti, with the Memphis Police Department, responded
to 2119 Pendleton Street based on a 911 ambulance call
concerning a child with severe burns. When he arrived at the
location, he was met by the defendant who was standing
outside the residence holding the victim, her three-year-old
son. According to Officer Picciotti, the defendant seemed
aggravated by his presence stating, "I didn't call
for you. I called for an ambulance."
Officer Picciotti inquired as to what happened, the defendant
informed him that she was in the kitchen cooking and
discovered that the victim had urinated on himself. She sent
him to the bathroom to clean up. Minutes later, the defendant
heard screaming coming from the bathroom. When she entered
the bathroom, the defendant found the victim in the bathtub
with the water running.
Michael Coburn, a member of the Memphis Police
Department's Crime Scene Investigations Unit, was also
dispatched to the defendant's residence. After
photographing the home, Officer Coburn took temperature
readings from the bathtub faucet. According to Officer
Cobrun, the hot water coming directly from the faucet
registered on his temperature gauge at 140 degrees
Fahrenheit. He then placed the "stopper" in the
bathtub and allowed the water to collect in the bathtub for
nine minutes. After nine minutes, there were four and
three-fourth inches of water in the bathtub and the
temperature reading of the water was 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
Officer Coburn testified he then took measurements of the
defendant's three other children. The oldest child, a
six-year-old male, measured three feet, nine inches tall. The
middle child, a four-year-old female, was ...