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State v. Chambers

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

May 16, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs February 23, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Blount County Nos. C-24053, C-20398 David R. Duggan, Judge

         The Defendant, Patrick Russell Chambers, pleaded guilty in the Blount County Circuit Court in case number C-24053 to possession of contraband inside a penal institution, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. § 39-16-301 (2014). The Defendant also stipulated that his conduct in case number C-20453 violated the conditions of his community corrections sentence relative to a reckless homicide conviction in case number C-20398. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range III, persistent offender to ten years' confinement for the contraband conviction and to serve the remainder of his eight-year sentence for the reckless homicide conviction after finding that the Defendant had violated the conditions of his release. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his request for alternative sentencing. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

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

          Michael R. Tabler, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Patrick Russell Chambers.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Katherine C. Redding, Assistant Attorney General; Mike L. Flynn, District Attorney General; and Tracy Jenkins, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., JJ., joined.



         On November 5, 2015, the Defendant was arrested for possession of various narcotics when he was inside the booking area of the jail. As a result of the criminal charge, a community corrections violation report and an arrest warrant for the violation were issued on November 16. The warrant stated that on October 14, 2015, the Defendant was convicted of reckless homicide and sentenced to eight years, with six months' confinement and the remainder to be served on community corrections.

         On March 28, 2016, the Defendant pleaded guilty to the contraband-related charge and to the community corrections violation. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court would determine the length and manner of service of the sentence relative to the contraband conviction and determine the disposition of the community corrections violation. The transcript of the guilty plea and the community corrections submission hearing is not included in the appellate record.

         At the June 20, 2016 sentencing hearing, the presentence report was received as an exhibit. The report shows previous convictions for six counts of aggravated assault, four counts of reckless endangerment involving a deadly weapon, a federal drug-related conviction, misdemeanor drug possession, and various traffic-related offenses. The forty-four-year-old Defendant graduated from high school, earned carpentry-related certificates during a previous period of confinement, and served in the military.

         The Defendant reported good mental and physical health and indicated he had been previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder, although he was not taking prescription medication. The Defendant reported first drinking alcohol at age thirteen, using marijuana between ages sixteen and forty-four, weekly use of cocaine between ages twenty-one and thirty-seven, abusing prescribed hydrocodone, and using oxycodone and morphine at age thirty-eight until his incarceration in this case. The Defendant reported using oxycodone and morphine when he reported to the jail to begin serving his six months' confinement relative to the reckless homicide conviction.

         The Defendant reported that on the day he was to report to the jail, he made the decision to stop taking his prescribed pain medication and that he was going to experience "extreme" withdrawal because of stopping his medications "cold turkey." He said he had never experienced these symptoms and made the decision to bring medications into the jail to lessen the effects of the symptoms. He said that if he had been "in his right mind, " he would have never introduced contraband into the jail.

         The Defendant reported earning an athletic scholarship to a Texas college but left school after four months to join the Army. The Defendant completed boot camp and returned home to marry his girlfriend, although the marriage only lasted one year. The Defendant said he obtained a "hardship" discharge from the Army in order to assist his father in caring for his ill mother. The Defendant ultimately fathered a child with another woman, and the child was age six at the time of the presentence investigation. The child was in the custody of the Defendant's father as a result of the reckless homicide conviction and because of the child's mother's prescription medication abuse. The Defendant pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in exchange for serving six months in confinement and eight years on community corrections. The Defendant admitted he possessed Suboxone and Xanax when he entered the jail to begin serving the six months.

         Robert White testified that he represented the Defendant in the reckless homicide case. Mr. White said that he spoke to the Defendant on the day the Defendant reported to the jail and that the Defendant was frantic and distraught. Mr. White said that the Defendant expressed concerns relative to suffering withdrawal from the pain medication the Defendant was taking at the time. Mr. White recalled that the Defendant was at a hospital or planning to go the hospital in an effort to obtain assistance with the symptoms. Mr. White said that the Defendant requested Mr. White to attempt to reschedule his report date and that the Defendant sounded desperate. Mr. White said that he contacted the district attorney's office to discuss rescheduling the report date but that he was unable to speak with the assigned prosecutor. Mr. White said he told the Defendant that he was unable to reschedule the report date.

         On cross-examination, Mr. White testified that the Defendant was scheduled to report to the jail on November 3, 2016. He acknowledged the allegation relative to the reckless homicide charge was that the Defendant had a problem with drugs and agreed the four-year-old victim died as a result of the Defendant's "smothering him to death in bed" while under the influence of "illicit drugs." Although the offense occurred in ...

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