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Hoover v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

July 21, 2017

JAMES HOOVER
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs at Knoxville May 17, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Tipton County No. 8281 Joseph H. Walker, Judge

         The Petitioner, James Hoover, pleaded no contest to vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. The trial court entered the sentence agreed to by the parties: twelve years. The Petitioner then filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that his counsel had been ineffective, rendering his plea unknowingly and involuntarily entered. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the Petitioner relief, and after review, we affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.

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

          Jeremy T. Armstrong, Covington, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Hoover.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jonathan H. Wardle, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Sean G. Hord, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J. and John Everett Williams, J., joined.

          OPINION

          ROBERT W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE.

         I. Facts

         In July 20, 2015, the Petitioner pleaded no contest to vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. At the hearing on the plea, the State first noted that the incident included four counts: Count 1 was aggravated vehicular homicide, a Class A felony; Count 2 was DUI, per se, a Class A misdemeanor; Count 3 was Notice of a prior DUI; and Count 4 was vehicular assault, a Class D felony. The State informed the trial court that the parties had agreed to allow the Petitioner to plead no contest in Count 1 to the lesser-included offense of vehicular homicide, a Class B felony, and in Count 4 to vehicular assault and that the State would dismiss the remaining charges. The State also informed the trial court that the parties had agreed that the Petitioner's sentence would be ten years, served at thirty percent, for the Class B felony and two years, served at thirty percent, for the Class D felony.

         The State articulated the facts supporting the convictions as follows:

This case stems from a motor vehicle crash that happened on July 6, 2013, when the THP responded to a motor vehicle crash near what we know as The Farm Club on Highway 51 here in Tipton County.
From the Investigation the THP did determine that [the Petitioner] was the unrestrained operator of a 2001 Chevrolet Impala traveling northbound on U.S. 51 in the southbound lane.
Ray Allen was the unrestrained operator of a 2012 Nissan Altima that had just entered onto the southbound lane of U.S. 51 coming from a commercial driveway. Antonio Norfolk was an unrestrained passenger in that right front seat of the 2012 Nissan Altima driven by Ray Allen. Norfolk, Antonio Norfolk, was killed as a result of the crash.
A sample of [the Petitioner's] blood was collected by the Regional Medical Center the day of the crash. A search warrant was obtained for the blood sample. That blood sample was then given to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation crime lab for testing, and it was determined that [the Petitioner's] blood sample contained 0.26 of ethyl alcohol. The official toxicology report determined that [the Petitioner's] blood . . . also contained THC. The driver of the other car had zero alcohol in his system.
After the impact, Allen's vehicle rotated counter-clockwise. Allen's vehicle came to a final rest in the southbound lane of U.S. 51 facing north. At the time that the two vehicles collided, [the Petitioner], . . . was traveling a minimum of 71 miles per hour, and Allen, the driver of the other car who was injured with serious bodily injury during the crash which would account for the vehicular assault in Count 2, was traveling at a minimum of 14 miles per hour.
It was the conclusion of the THP based upon their investigation that the crash was the result of [the Petitioner] operating his vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, traveling north in the southbound lane of U.S. 51 and causing a head-on ...

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