Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs: February 15, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Williamson County No. I-CR017785
Joseph W. Woodruff, Judge
to a plea agreement, the Defendant, Terrance Lavar Walker,
pleaded guilty to delivery of more than .5 grams of cocaine
with an agreed upon Range I sentence of nine years, with the
trial court to determine the manner of service of the
nine-year sentence. After a sentencing hearing, the trial
court denied the Defendant's request for an alternative
sentence and ordered that the Defendant serve nine years in
confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends the trial
court erred when it denied him an alternative sentence. We
affirm the trial court's judgment.
R. App. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court
Vanessa Pettigrew Bryan, District Public Defender; and J.
Gregory Burlison, Assistant Public Defender, Franklin,
Tennessee, for the appellant, Terrance Lavar Walker.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Kim R.
Helper, District Attorney General; and Sean B. Duddy,
Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State
W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in
which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Timothy L. Easter, J.,
W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE.
Williamson County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant for
delivery of more than .5 grams of cocaine in a Drug-Free
School Zone. On November 20, 2015, the Defendant pleaded
guilty to delivery of cocaine with a recommended Range I
sentence of nine years. The issue of alternative sentencing
was reserved for the trial court's determination. A copy
of the guilty plea submission hearing is not part of the
appellate record; however, the pre-sentence report summarizes
the Defendant's offense:
On Thursday 5/9/13, 21st Judicial District Drug
Task Force Agents P. Wheeler, J. Ashmore, and C. Wright used
[a confidential informant ("CI")] to purchase one
gram of cocaine from [the Defendant] for $80.00. . . . CI
phoned [the Defendant] to further tentative arrangements that
had been previously made to conduct a drug transaction. [The
Defendant] instructed CI to meet him at a church near the
Shell gas station on Fairground Street. . . . CI placed
multiple calls and texts to [the Defendant]. The transaction
was about to be canceled [sic], when [the Defendant] pulled
into the parking lot.
At approximately 6:22 pm, [the Defendant] parked next to CI.
CI waited for [the Defendant] to get off the phone and
approached the passenger side of [the Defendant]'s
vehicle. [The Defendant] stated, "Drop it on the
seat" (referring to the money). "Hey keep the CD
(inaudible) . . . Damn (Inaudible) . . . Man, that's why
I can't be doin it like this at people man . . .
Y'all do stupid shit like . . . I gave you the CD for a
reason." CI took the drugs, said "Bye" and
walked away from the vehicle. CI later explained that [the
Defendant] handed CI a CD with the cocaine in the open hold
of the CD. . . CI relinquished a small solid piece of cocaine
to the agents and a post amble [sic] was conducted. CI noted
that [the Defendant] had been wearing his work uniform from
trial court held a sentencing hearing on March 24, 2016, to
determine the manner of service of the Defendant's
nine-year sentence. The trial court, at the State's
request, entered the pre-sentence report as evidence. The
defense then called its first witness, Shelika Poynter, the
Defendant's girlfriend. Ms. Poynter testified that the
Defendant lived with her and her two daughters, one of whom
was also the Defendant's daughter. Ms. Poynter also had a
third daughter who was an adult and no longer lived with
them. She described the Defendant as being "great with
the kids." Specifically, she said that the Defendant was
a "big help" with their eleven-year-old daughter.
Ms. Poynter explained that their child had "ADHD,
she's borderline schizophrenic, she has ODD, she's on
medication for anxiety, schizophrenic. So, one of us has to
be with her at all times." She said that both she and
the Defendant held two jobs, so they scheduled their work to
allow one of them to be with their daughter.
Poynter testified that her mother had died in 2012, leaving
her without other options for help with her children. She
explained that if the Defendant was unable to help her, she
would likely have to quit one of her two jobs. Ms. Poynter
said that the Defendant was like a mentor to her
seventeen-year-old daughter, encouraging her to make good
decisions. She reiterated that the Defendant held two jobs
and was attending "church now." She said that the
Defendant also helped care for her oldest daughter's son.
Poynter testified that she had observed positive change in
the Defendant. She attributed this change to personal growth
and the fact that he had a family who cared about him now.
Ms. Poynter reiterated that the Defendant's absence from
their home would create a significant hardship concerning
childcare and finances.
cross-examination, Ms. Poynter testified that her aunt and
three cousins lived near her. She agreed that her aunt often
helped supervise her youngest daughter when she and the
Defendant were both at work. Ms. Poynter agreed that the
Defendant had "numerous felony" drug convictions
from 2000 through 2007 and that he had been terminated from
Drug Court for selling drugs. Ms. Poynter said that the
Defendant was not currently attending any type of drug
rehabilitation treatment but that he had contacted Educare
about a drug assessment class but was unable to afford the
Defendant testified that he had "a rough life growing up
without [his] parents" but that he had found support
through Ms. Poynter and her family. He said that he was
trying to "do better" for his children. He
described his childhood saying that he did not meet his
mother, who was incarcerated, until he was five or six years
old when she retrieved him from his home in Jackson,
Tennessee and moved him to Franklin, Tennessee. From then on
he was "back and forth" between Jackson and
Franklin until he was ten or eleven. He said that, at the
time, he believed his "so called ...