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State v. Washington

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

September 5, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
ERIC WASHINGTON aka ERIK BROCK

          Assigned on Briefs February 7, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 14-05910 Carolyn W. Blackett, Judge

         Defendant, Eric Washington, appeals from the trial court's revocation of probation for his convictions for aggravated assault, domestic assault, and vandalism under $500 and order that he serve his effective ten-year sentence in confinement. Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by allowing hearsay testimony at the revocation hearing and that the evidence was insufficient to support the revocation. Upon our review of the record, we hold that the trial court erred by admitting hearsay testimony without a finding of good cause or reliability and that the trial court erred in revoking Defendant's probation on a ground for which there was a lack of evidence in the record. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the matter for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal Court Reversed and Remanded

          Seth M. Segraves, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Eric Washington.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Zachary T. Hinkle, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Megan Fowler, and Cavet Ostner, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Camille R. McMullen, and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          THOMAS T. WOODALL, PRESIDING JUDGE

         Facts

         A transcript of the guilty plea hearing is not included in the appellate record. However, we glean the following facts from the record. On November 18, 2014, Defendant was indicted for aggravated assault, domestic assault, and vandalism under $500. He entered open guilty pleas to the charges, and the trial court imposed a sentence of ten years for his aggravated assault charge and 11 months and 29 days on each of the other two charges. The trial court suspended Defendant's sentences and ordered him to serve ten years on probation, including participation in the Jericho Project. On December 12, 2015, Defendant's probation officer filed an affidavit alleging that Defendant violated probation by incurring new criminal charges and behaving in an assaultive, abusive, threatening, and intimidating manner. The State also filed a petition for revocation of a suspended sentence, noting that Defendant had violated the law and had not abided by all of the Jericho Project conditions.

         At the revocation hearing, Jacorien White, Defendant's probation officer, testified that Defendant was placed on probation on August 4, 2015. Ms. White testified that Defendant had not abided by the conditions of his probation and that he had been arrested and charged with aggravated burglary and domestic assault. She also noted that Defendant could no longer participate in the Jericho Project because he was incarcerated.

         On October 6, 2015, Officer Pedro Torres, of the Memphis Police Department, responded to a report of a burglary and aggravated assault. Officer Torres and his partner met Olivia Jones, the alleged victim, at a gas station and followed her to her apartment. When they arrived at the apartment, Officer Torres observed damage to the doorframe and the lock. He testified that the door "appeared to have been kicked in." Officer Torres testified that Ms. Jones told him that her current boyfriend, Defendant, had kicked in her door. Officer Torres downloaded Defendant's picture onto his PDA and showed it to Ms. Jones, and she identified Defendant as the person who kicked in her door. Officer Torres testified that Ms. Jones received a phone call from Defendant while he was at the apartment. Ms. Jones stated, "'[t]his is him'" when she received the phone call. She talked to Defendant on speakerphone so the officers could hear. Officer Torres heard the caller "apologize[ ] for kicking in the door, and he said repeatedly, 'Don't call the police. . . . I'm going to fix the door."

         Officer Torres testified that Ms. Jones completed an "Offer of Transportation and Hold Harmless" form in which she stated that she was taking a bath, and she heard Defendant knocking and shouting at the front door. She was getting dressed when she heard Defendant kick in her front door and accuse her of seeing another man. She told Officer Torres that Defendant picked up "a small kitchen knife, " but that he did not threaten her with it, and Defendant dropped the knife "during the struggle." Ms. Jones told Officer Torres that Defendant pushed her down.

         On cross-examination, Officer Torres testified that he had never spoken to Defendant and acknowledged that he could not ...


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