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State v. Ricketts

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

May 5, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
THOMAS ANTONIO RICKETTS

          Assigned on Briefs December 14, 2016

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2013-D-3323 J. Randall Wyatt, Jr., Judge

         The Defendant, Thomas Antonio Ricketts, entered guilty pleas in the Davidson County Criminal Court to two counts of facilitation of aggravated child abuse and one count of facilitation of aggravated child neglect. The trial court imposed concurrent ten-year sentences for each count, to be served in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant argues that his sentence was excessive and that the trial court erred in denying an alternative sentence. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

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

          David A. Collins, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Thomas Antonio Ricketts.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Courtney N. Orr, Assistant Attorney General; Glenn R. Funk, District Attorney General; and Jennifer Smith, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr. and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          CAMILLE R. McMULLEN, JUDGE

         On December 2, 2013, the Defendant and his co-defendant, Ioka Kimbuke Kyles, were indicted for six counts of aggravated child abuse and one count of aggravated child neglect. The Defendant entered guilty pleas to the lesser included offenses of facilitation of aggravated child abuse in counts one and five and facilitation of aggravated child neglect in count seven. Counts two, three, four, and six were dismissed pursuant to a plea agreement. The Defendant also agreed to be sentenced as a Range I, Standard Offender, with a range of eight to twelve years for each conviction and with all counts to run concurrently, leaving length and manner of service to be determined by the trial court.

         At the guilty plea hearing, the State summarized the facts surrounding the offenses as follows:

On July 18, 2013, the victim, who was 7-years-old at the time, was admitted to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital with pain to his right arm. The doctors determined that he had a spiral fracture to that arm. It was also discovered that he had numerous bruises, abrasions, marks, scars, all over his entire body including pattern marks on his back.
The victim's weight was also severely low[, ] and he was in less than the third percentile of his age. Both defendants were interviewed. Both defendants admitted to the time frame when the victim was in their exclusive care[, ] and it was determined that the acute injuries that the victim had would have had to have occurred while he was in the defendants' care.
However, some of the older healing injuries could have been the result of something that might have happened by the biological mother. Both defendants stated that the victim's arm was broken as the result of another sibling stepping on his arm. However, the Vanderbilt Care Team stated that this was not consistent with this type of fracture and all of the markings on the victim's body were a concern for abuse.
When confronted with the marks on the victim, the defendants first stated that the victim scratches himself and throws himself into a dresser when he is in the corner during time-out. When confronted with the markings that were all over the victim, they then stated that this was the result of a peanut butter allergy.
The victim was interviewed by several people. Initially, he stated that his arm was broke because he slept on it wrong; and then he stated that his arm was broke because a sibling stepped on it; and then he stated that the marks on his body were the result of a peanut butter allergy. However, he later stated that it was both of the defendants that twisted his arm that caused his broken arm. He told the forensic interviewer that both defendants beat him with whips and switches all over his body.
He told the forensic interviewer that he was made to stand in the corner all day without bathroom breaks and that when he peed on himself he would get punished. He told the forensic ...

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