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State v. Buchanan

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

September 7, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs June 20, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County Nos. 2015-I-307, 2015-I-562 Cheryl Blackburn, Judge

         The Defendant, Gary Robert Buchanan, appeals the trial court's imposition of an effective fourteen-year sentence upon resentencing following the revocation of his community corrections. After review, we affirm the sentencing decision of the trial court.

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

          Dawn Deaner, District Public Defender; and Jeffrey A. DeVasher (on appeal) and Kristin Neff (at hearing), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Gary Robert Buchanan.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Ruth Anne Thompson, Senior Counsel; Glenn R. Funk, District Attorney General; and Megan M. King and Doug Thurman, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.


          ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE


         On May 7, 2015, in case number 2015-I-307, the Defendant pled guilty to one count of aggravated assault. At the plea hearing, the State submitted evidence that the Defendant was in an altercation with another man and had pulled a knife. The State noted that there were several witnesses to the incident, and the Defendant gave the knife to the police. The trial court conducted a sentencing hearing on June 5, 2015. At the hearing, Luis Godoy testified that he was working at his taco stand on March 10, 2015, when he saw the Defendant trying to open the door of a car belonging to one of Mr. Godoy's customers. Mr. Godoy approached the Defendant and asked him to leave his customers alone. Mr. Godoy told the Defendant that he would give him food if he was hungry. However, the Defendant pushed him, pulled a knife, and tried to stab him three times. A customer called the police, but the Defendant was not picked up.

         Mr. Godoy testified that, on a different day, he received a call from a woman who worked nearby informing him that the man with whom he had a fight was trying to break into Mr. Godoy's business. Mr. Godoy testified that customers and workers had stayed away from his food truck following the incident because they were uncomfortable. Mr. Godoy had to raise the salaries of employees who were nervous to come to work, and his wife was upset and wanted him to sell the business.

         Sasha Leeth, who works for community corrections in the dual disorder services program, testified that she met with the Defendant after he was referred to the program. She performed an assessment on him and discussed his past treatment for drug, alcohol, and mental health problems. Ms. Leeth discovered that in 2009, the Defendant was diagnosed with "bipolar disorder depressed type as well as mood disorder." She noted that, since the Defendant had been in custody, he had met with counselors but had not been taking medication. Ms. Leeth said that if the Defendant were sentenced to a community corrections program, he should reside in a recovery house due to his substance abuse problems. She also said that the Defendant would need to find full-time employment to pay the fees for living there, as well as attend meetings and counseling to monitor his progress. Further, the Defendant would receive mental health treatment and have to obey a curfew.

         The trial court noted that the Defendant had a lengthy record of fifty-seven misdemeanors and six prior felonies and questioned Ms. Leeth as to her opinion of whether the Defendant would succeed in this treatment program. Ms. Leeth said that the Defendant usually committed crimes because of his drug and alcohol problems but that it would be up to the Defendant whether he succeeded. Ms. Leeth noted that the Defendant had had periods of sobriety, but he had also previously been in a recovery house and left after a few days.

         The Defendant testified that he wanted to get sober and was embarrassed by his behavior. He said that he would comply with the requirements of treatment. At the end of the hearing, the trial court stated that it was going to sentence the Defendant to a term of three years in community corrections "with the understanding that there could be a much higher sentence." The sentence included the requirements that the ...

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