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State v. Thomas

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

August 24, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
EDWARD NOLAN LEE THOMAS

          Assigned on Briefs August 8, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County Nos. 2016-B-1146 & 2016-I-802 J. Randall Wyatt, Jr., Judge

         The Defendant, Edward Nolan Lee Thomas, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and theft of property valued at less than $500. By agreement, the Defendant's sentence was four years for the burglary conviction, concurrent with a sentence of eleven months, twenty-nine days for the theft conviction, with the trial court to determine the manner of service. The trial court subsequently ordered the Defendant to serve the sentences in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied him judicial diversion and imposed a sentence of continuous confinement. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court's judgments.

          Dawn Deaner, District Public Defender; Melissa K. Bourne (at hearing) and Emma Rae Tennent (on appeal), Assistant District Public Defenders, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Edward Nolan Lee Thomas.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Ruth Anne Thompson, Senior Counsel; Glenn R. Funk, District Attorney General; and Addie B. Askew, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr. and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ROBERT W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE

         I. Background and Facts

         On October 26, 2016, the Defendant pleaded guilty in separate indictments to aggravated burglary and theft of property valued at less than $500. By agreement, the trial court imposed a sentence of four years for the burglary conviction and eleven months and twenty-nine days for the theft conviction. The trial court advised the Defendant that, in accordance with the parties' agreement, it would determine the manner of service of his sentence. The State recited the following facts as the basis for the acceptance of the Defendant's guilty pleas:

Your Honor, had this case gone to trial . . . the State's proof would have shown that on April 8th of 2016 a burglary occurred at a residence located at [ ] Summit Avenue here in Davidson County. The victim Samuel Stratton was the resident at that location. $3, 500 worth of personal property was taken. The window showed signs of forced entry and a latent print was recovered from that window seal and that matched to [the Defendant.]
Had [the second case] gone to trial the State's proof would have shown that on September 1, 2016 neighbors of [ ] Waldkirch Avenue, here in Davidson County, saw two men in a Dodge Intrepid going into a shed at their neighbor's house taking items from the shed. Officers located the gold Dodge Intrepid that the neighbors had described and the [Defendant] was in that car. He stated under Miranda that he had taken a trimmer, a work light, and a ladder from the shed and that he did not know the owner and that he did not have permission to take the items or be on the lot. The victim, Ms. Smith, also stated that she had not given anyone permission to go in the shed or take her belongings. The amount of property that was taken was $130[.]

         The trial court subsequently held a sentencing hearing, during which the following evidence was presented: Officer Jonathan McGowan testified that he was employed by the Metropolitan Police Department and that he investigated the burglary of Samuel Stratton's home. Mr. Stratton told him that his home had been broken into and that a firearm, automatic rifle, electronics, and some shoes had been stolen. Officers lifted fingerprints from a window at the home that was identified as the point of forced entry. An analysis of the fingerprint revealed that it matched the Defendant's fingerprints in the police department crime lab's computer system. The stolen property was estimated to be valued at $3, 500. The Defendant was later arrested, given his Miranda warnings, and gave a statement that he had participated in the burglary as a "lookout" and was inside the residence while the burglary was occurring.

         Mr. Stratton testified that he was the victim of the burglary and clarified that an Xbox gaming system, three pairs of shoes, an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, gun accessories, a laptop, and over 240 rounds of ammunition were stolen from his home. Mr. Stratton calculated the value of the items stolen at $5, 155. Mr. Stratton testified that he worked at HCA and as a security guard. Since the burglary, Mr. Stratton testified that his daughters were afraid to sleep in their rooms, and his wife was frightened when he was away. His wife changed her work schedule to allow her to work from home, and his job allowed him to do the same so that someone was present at the home during the day, which made his family feel safer. Mr. Stratton reduced his working hours at night so he could be present to make sure his family was "okay." Mr. Stratton asked that the Defendant be ordered to serve his sentence in confinement.

         Officer Shedie Herbert testified that he responded to the scene at Waldkirch Avenue after the victim's neighbors called police and reported two men stealing from the residence's shed. The stolen items were a ladder, a weed trimmer, and a work light. He located the Defendant and spoke with him about the missing items, and the Defendant stated that he had been at the residence doing yard work. He later said that he did not have permission to be at the residence and was not given access to the shed but that he gained entry because of a broken lock. He admitted that he did not have permission to take the stolen items.

         The victim at the Waldkirch Avenue residence wrote a letter, which the trial court admitted into evidence. She wrote that she had been burglarized three separate times at the Waldkirch Avenue residence and that her sense of security was gone, and she could no longer live alone. She wrote ...


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