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State v. Alston

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

March 9, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
SARITA ALSTON

          Assigned on Briefs November 1, 2016

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 13-00205 Lee V. Coffee, Judge

         The 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.

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

          Jeff 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 of Tennessee.

          J. Ross Dyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Camille R. McMullen, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          J. ROSS DYER, JUDGE

         Procedural and Factual Background

         Trial

         On 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.

         Officer 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."

         When 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.

         Officer 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 ...


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