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State v. Ford

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

May 5, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
WYNELL FORD

          Assigned on Briefs April 11, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Madison County No. 15-392 Donald H. Allen, Judge

         The Defendant, Wynell Ford, pled guilty in the Madison County Circuit Court to convicted felon in possession of a firearm with a prior violent felony, a Class C felony, and was sentenced by the trial court as a multiple offender to ten years in the Department of Correction at thirty-five percent. On appeal, he challenges the trial court's denial of his request for alternative sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the sentencing determinations of the trial court.

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

          George Morton Googe, District Public Defender; and Gregory D. Gookin, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Wynell Ford.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Senior Counsel; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Aaron J. Chaplin, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Timothy L. Easter and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE.

         FACTS

         On March 24, 2016, the Defendant pled guilty as a Range II, multiple offender to convicted felon in possession of a firearm with a prior violent felony, with the sentencing to be left to the trial court's later determination. The prosecutor recited the following factual basis for the plea:

Your Honor, if the State were to go to trial, we would show that on or about April the 27th of 2015 here in Madison County, Tennessee that the [D]efendant did unlawfully and knowingly possess a firearm after having been convicted of a violent felony offense which was aggravated assault in Madison Count[y] Circuit Court No. 99-940 which would be in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated [section] 39-17-1307(B)(1)(a). This is the result of an encounter the [D]efendant had with Investigator Rhodes and Investigator Savage here in Jackson, Madison County at 59 Point O'Wood Cove. The investigators were there patrolling the area due to recent shots fired in the area. They saw the [D]efendant in the middle of the cove at the end of that street next to a car. The vehicle was blocking traffic. Investigator Rhodes saw what he knew to be a gun in the [D]efendant's pocket, the imprint of a gun in the [D]efendant's left pocket. Investigator Rhodes exited the vehicle and approached the [D]efendant and asked him if that was a gun in his pocket and at first the [D]efendant said, no, and Investigator Rhodes replied, "I can see the gun." Then this [D]efendant mumbled some profanities and said, "Yes." He attempted to reach into his left pocket. At that point, Investigator Rhodes reached into the [D]efendant's pocket and pulled out the firearm. He asked the [D]efendant if he had a handgun carry permit and the [D]efendant replied, "No, " and the [D]efendant then informed the investigator that he was a convicted felon. All of this occurred here in Madison County, Tennessee.

         At the sentencing hearing, the State introduced the Defendant's presentence report, which reflected that the thirty-eight-year-old Defendant had a substantial history of criminal convictions dating from the age of seventeen, including two convictions for domestic violence, two convictions for aggravated assault, two convictions for criminal trespassing, a conviction for burglary of an automobile, a conviction for vandalism, a conviction for simple assault, and various drug and traffic-related convictions. The presentence report further reflected that the Defendant stated under oath in court that he had never been employed. The State also introduced as exhibits certified copies of the Defendant's 2000 guilty plea convictions for aggravated assault, a 2002 probation violation order entered with respect to those convictions, the Defendant's 2002 convictions for automobile burglary and theft of property under $500, and the Defendant's 2014 conviction for simple domestic assault.

         The Defendant did not present any proof and made no statement to the court. During arguments, his counsel pointed out that the Defendant's right arm and leg were partially paralyzed from a gunshot wound he received in the early 1990s and that he suffered from extensive health problems. Defense counsel also noted that many of the Defendant's convictions were older, dating from the early 1990s and 2006, and argued that the Defendant had "accepted full responsibility" for the instant crime by pleading guilty. Defense counsel requested that the trial court impose the minimum sentence and order probation or some other kind of alternative sentencing.

         At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court reviewed the Defendant's criminal history in detail and found two applicable enhancement factors: that the Defendant had a previous history of criminal convictions or criminal behavior in addition to those necessary to establish his sentencing as a Range II offender and that he had, before trial or sentencing, failed to comply with the conditions of a sentence involving release into the community, which the court based on the "five or possibly six different occasions" he had committed new offenses while on probation or a sentence involving release into the community. See Tenn. Code Ann. ยง 40-35-114(1), (8) (2014). The trial court noted the Defendant's partial paralysis and the fact that he was on disability but found no applicable mitigating factors. The court, therefore, sentenced the Defendant to ten years, the maximum in his range. The trial court found that the Defendant was not an appropriate candidate for probation or alternative sentencing, noting the Defendant's numerous failures to abide by the terms of sentences involving release into the community and the nature of his offense, in which he was ...


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