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State v. Watkins

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

September 8, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
KEVIN WATKINS, III

          Assigned on Briefs August 1, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Madison County No. 16-272/284 Donald H. Allen, Judge

          Matthew Headley, District Public Defender; Gregory D. Gookin, Assistant District Public Defender, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kevin Watkins, III.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Robert W. Wilson, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry Woodall, District Attorney General; and Shaun A. Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ROBERT W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE.

         The Defendant, Kevin Watkins, III, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated burglary and agreed to allow the trial court to determine the length and manner of service of his sentence. The trial court subsequently ordered the Defendant to serve concurrent six-year and three-year sentences in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it applied two enhancement factors to his sentence and when it denied him alternative sentencing. After review, we affirm the trial court's judgments.

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

         I. Background and Facts

         On October 17, 2016, the Defendant pleaded guilty in separate indictments to two counts of aggravated burglary. The State dismissed two counts of theft of property valued at over $1, 000, and two counts of vandalism over $1, 000 as part of the plea agreement. The parties agreed to allow the trial court to determine the length and manner of service of the Defendant's sentences. The State recited the following facts as the basis for the acceptance of the Defendant's guilty pleas:

[T]he State would show at trial that . . . [the Defendant] did unlawfully enter a habitation without the effective consent of the owner . . . with intent to commit theft of property. There was a witness - this residence hadn't been lived in since about a month before and there was a witness who saw a vehicle there at this residence. [The witness] tried to block the vehicle in and called the sheriff. He got the tag number and the description of the vehicle. The vehicle went around him and left the scene. At that point, the sheriff responded. The owner of the property responded and found damage to the front door. I believe it's about $180 for the front door being kicked in, but not much else missing. The sheriff's department began an investigation. They did the next day locate the vehicle. The witness went to the scene and said, "This is the vehicle that I saw." They were able to run the tag numbers and they discovered that that vehicle came back to [the Defendant's] grandmother who reported that [the Defendant], her grandson, had stolen that vehicle and had taken it without her permission and used it without her permission and he was in possession of it on January the 7th of 2016. [The Defendant] was interviewed. He did admit to being the individual who broke into this residence. A juvenile petition was then later taken out against him in this matter.

         That occurred in Madison County, Tennessee. Then . . . on March the 4th of 2016, [the Defendant] did unlawfully enter a habitation without the effective consent of the owner . . . with intent to commit theft of property. On that occasion . . . [the owners] had left their house to go to the grocery I believe it was for about an hour. [The owner's] 90-plus year old mother who had early forms of dementia was at home. When they got home, their home had been burglarized. Her mother was fine, but just indicated some individuals had come into the residence. She had early staged of dementia, so they weren't able to get much more information. Quite a bit was stolen from the residence, being coins, cash, some televisions, a couple of rifles, a shotgun. There was some damage to the property. Those coins were later cashed in at Coin Star in which there was a video that was taken from that Coin Star. I believe it was a Kroger or some other location here in town. [The Defendant] was developed as a suspect. He was interviewed by the police department and he did admit to being one of the individuals who broke in . . . [to the residence] and he then somewhat exonerated . . . the co-defendant, in this matter. [The co-defendant] only pled guilty to theft of property because [the Defendant] said [the co-defendant] wasn't present for the burglary, but did assist in cashing out those coins and . . . was in possession of some of the stolen property at a later date.

         The trial court subsequently held a sentencing hearing, during which it admitted the presentence report as an exhibit and the parties presented the following evidence: the victim of the second burglary testified that the Defendant damaged her home and belongings, including the window in her garage, two of her bedroom doors, which had to be replaced, and that several items of property had been taken: three guns, $885.00 in coins, a purse containing $40.00, a driver's license, car keys, a garage door opener, a GPS, and two door keys. Although not clear from the record, it appears that the victim's car was stolen, and the victim testified that, when it was returned to her, she had to have the car, which had minor damage, detailed to rid it of the smell of marijuana. The victim's mother, who was home when the burglary occurred, was shaken up by the event. She passed away before the sentencing proceedings were held. The victim testified that she had filed an insurance claim for her damage and losses and had a deductible of $1000.00. The amount of damage and loss was valued at $4000.62 and insurance paid her $2303.00. She stated that the stolen purse belonged to her mother, and that, as a result of her dementia, she used it as a coping mechanism on a daily basis and "carried it with her everywhere." One of the straps on the purse was broken, indicating that it had been taken from her grasp, which she opined contributed to her mother being traumatized by the event.

         Kevin Watkins, Sr., the Defendant's grandfather, testified that the Defendant had never been given a chance in life because he was raised by a mother with multiple children who was using "dope." The Defendant was tasked with caring for several of his brothers and sisters. Mr. Watkins spoke of his own past drug convictions and how the trial court had sentenced him to a short period of incarceration with the remainder on probation, ...


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