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State v. Hill

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

August 29, 2017


          Session June 27, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 90389 Steven Wayne Sword, Judge

         The Defendant, Andre Hill, appeals the Knox County Criminal Court's revocation of his probation. On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the admission of a witness's statements at the revocation hearing violated his right of confrontation; and (2) the trial court abused its discretion by ordering him to serve his original sentence in confinement. Upon review, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

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

          Joshua Hedrick, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Defendant, Andre Hill.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Zachary T. Hinkle, Assistant Attorney General; Charme Allen, District Attorney General; and Sara Keith, 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 Robert L. Holloway, Jr., JJ., joined.



         On November 28, 2012, the Defendant pled guilty to the sale of a Schedule II drug. He received an effective eight-year probationary sentence after service of 180 days' incarceration. On April 17, 2013, a warrant was filed alleging that the Defendant had failed to: report to his probation officer and, therefore, submit to random drug tests; pay fees to the Supervision and Criminal Injuries fund; provide verification of a lawful occupation or work-seeking efforts; and obtain permission before changing his residence or leaving the state. The warrant alleged that the Defendant had informed an officer that he had moved to New York in March 2013. The warrant also alleged that the Defendant was arrested in Shelby County on February 11, 2013, for speeding and driving without a valid license.

         On August 19, 2016, the warrant was amended to further allege that the Defendant: was arrested in West Virginia on April 28, 2013, for possession of heroin with intent to distribute; failed to inform his probation officer of this arrest; left the state on or about April 28, 2013, without his probation officer's permission; and possessed an illegal drug on or about April 28, 2013.

         At the September 22, 2016 revocation hearing, Michael Bone, a probation and parole officer in Knox County, testified that he began supervising the Defendant in June or July 2016 after the violation warrant was filed. Officer Bone reviewed the Defendant's file and supervision history, which showed that the Defendant was placed on probation in 2012 and requested a transfer to Shelby County where he was a resident. The Defendant's request was granted, however, Officer Bone testified that "[the Defendant] never reported to that probation officer in Shelby County." Defense counsel objected to this statement on hearsay and Confrontation Clause grounds. The trial court overruled the objection, explaining that, "This is a violation of probation hearing. Mr. Bone is working with the Tennessee Department of Corrections, Probation and Parole. Certainly he knows if anybody's reported."

         Officer Bone said that he was notified about the Defendant's absconder status when the Defendant was arrested in Knox County in 2016. The Defendant's case was then re-assigned from the Shelby County probation officer to Officer Bone, who investigated the Defendant's case and determined that an amended warrant was necessary because the Defendant had also been arrested in West Virginia. The parties stipulated that the West Virginia charges were subsequently dismissed.

         Regarding his personal interactions with the Defendant, Officer Bone said that the Defendant had reported as requested but that his attitude was "somewhat dismissive of all this" and "[r]esistive . . . to, fundamentally, what . . . the conditions of probation are." Officer Bone noted that the Defendant still had not paid his court costs or found employment but that he had submitted to drug tests and tested negative. Officer Bone recommended that the Defendant's probation be revoked or, alternatively, that he be considered for enhanced probation. On cross-examination, Officer Bone agreed that the Defendant had attended several meetings while under Officer Bone's supervision. Officer Bone also acknowledged that the Defendant had provided paperwork that showed he was attempting to obtain disability assistance for an injury that he allegedly suffered in 2015.

         At the conclusion of the hearing, and following the arguments of counsel, the trial court revoked the Defendant's probation. Specifically, the court found that "the [D]efendant violated his probation by changing residence and not notifying his probation officer, which is, in essence, absconding." The trial court also noted that, "Whether or not he's . . . reporting twice a month now that he's supposed to--the thing is, . . . he didn't report for three years." Ultimately, the trial court referred the ...

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