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State v. Altenhoff

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

September 20, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
JOHN DAVID ALTENHOFF

          Assigned on Briefs September 13, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Sequatchie County No. 2015CR56 J. Curtis Smith, Judge.

         John David Altenhoff, the Defendant, pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and agreed to an eight-year sentence with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. After finding that the Defendant had an extensive history of criminal behavior, that society needed to be protected from the Defendant, and that measures less than incarceration had unsuccessfully been applied to the Defendant, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve his sentence in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying an alternative sentence. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm.

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

          B. Jeffery Harmon, Jasper, Tennessee, for the appellant, John David Altenhoff.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; M. Todd Ridley, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Taylor, District Attorney General; and Steve Strain, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ROBERT L. HOLLOWAY, JR., JUDGE.

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         On June 2, 2015, the Sequatchie County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant for second degree murder. On May 23, 2016, the Defendant entered a best interest plea to voluntary manslaughter and agreed to an eight-year sentence as a Range II multiple offender. The Defendant agreed that the trial court would determine the manner of service at a later hearing. At the Defendant's guilty plea submission hearing, the State offered a recitation of facts in support of the Defendant's plea.

         At the sentencing hearing, the Defendant testified that he had serious medical problems at birth and wore a colostomy bag until he was approximately fifteen months old; after surgery, he continued to wear diapers until he was in the ninth grade. The Defendant stated that he was an ironworker until he fell fifteen feet and broke both bones in his right leg. He also testified that he obtained a scar on his head from a home invasion in 2011, where he was beaten and shot. The Defendant stated that he had been diagnosed with "post[-]traumatic stress disorder, severe social anxiety, and depression." He explained that he had received counseling and was prescribed medication while incarcerated, but the medication made him feel like a "zombie" and he could not afford to pay for it out of pocket, so he no longer took the medication. The Defendant stated that he had used drugs since he was twelve years old and had "never received any treatment or help for it." He explained that, due to his digestive problems, he needs to eat five or six small meals a day, so he smokes marijuana on a daily basis to help increase his appetite and relieve his anxiety.

         The Defendant testified that he was born addicted to crack cocaine and that both of his parents used drugs in front of him when he was a child. In 1999, at the age of nineteen, the Defendant pled guilty to two counts of sale and two counts of possession of cocaine and received a probated sentence, but he violated the terms of his probation by failing a drug screen and was incarcerated. In 2000, the Defendant threw a socket wrench at an individual in another vehicle; he later pled guilty to throwing a deadly missile and received a two-year sentence. In 2004, the Defendant pled guilty to burglary, grand theft, and cocaine possession and received a five-year probated sentence. The Defendant violated the terms of his probation and was incarcerated. In 2005, the Defendant moved from Florida to Tennessee to live with his mother because he "knew that if [he] stayed in Florida [he] would get in trouble again and they have three strikes and you're out law, plus the re-offender act, so [he] would have probably received a life sentence . . . ." After he moved, the Defendant worked for Stone Source, a tile installation company. The Defendant stated that he had performed stone work for three different employers during the last ten years and that he "was never fired from any of them."

         The Defendant stated that he had two sons, ages seven and eight, who lived with their mother. He stated that he had visitation with the children "every weekend or any time that [he] can." The Defendant testified that, if he received an alternative sentence, he could easily become employed as a stoneworker. He explained that:

[t]he only other thing [he would] be eligible for and what [he] would really like to do is become a youth . . . drug counselor for adolescent teens that . . . have drug addicted parents like [he] did, because if somebody had helped [him] when [he] ...

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