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Jones v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

October 5, 2017

DEMARCUS JONES
v.
STATE OF TENNESSE

          Assigned on Briefs July 25, 2017 at Knoxville

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County Nos. 14-02150, 14-02151 J. Robert Carter, Jr., Judge

         The Petitioner, Demarcus Jones, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2015 guilty pleas in case number 14-02150 to especially aggravated robbery, attempted first degree murder, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, aggravated burglary, theft of property, and setting fire to property and in case number 14-02151 to especially aggravated robbery, attempted first degree murder, and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and his effective forty-year sentence. T he Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty pleas were unknowingly and involuntarily entered. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

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

          Robert Golder (on appeal) and Ruchee Patel (at hearing), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Demarcus Jones.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Carrie Bush, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

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

          OPINION

          ROBERT H. MONTGOMERY, JR., JUDGE

         The record does not contain the indictment, the petition to accept the Petitioner's guilty pleas, or the judgments in case number 14-02150. We glean from the guilty plea hearing transcript that the Petitioner was indicted for especially aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping, kidnapping, attempt to commit first degree murder, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, aggravated burglary, theft of property valued at $1000 or more, and setting fire to property. The indictment in case number 14-02151 reflects that the Petitioner was indicted for especially aggravated robbery, attempted first degree murder, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.

         On September 24, 2015, the Petitioner pleaded guilty in case number 14-02150 to especially aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping, attempted first degree murder, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, burglary, theft of property valued at $1000 or more, and setting fire to property. He received an effective forty-year sentence at 100% service pursuant to the plea agreement. The Petitioner pleaded guilty in case number 14-02151 to especially aggravated robbery, attempted first degree murder, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and he received an effective forty-year sentence. T he effective sentences in both case numbers were imposed concurrently, for an overall effective forty-year sentence.

         On September 13, 2016, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered, that his convictions were based upon a coerced confession, and that the State failed to disclose favorable evidence. The Petitioner also alleged that he received ineffective assistance by counsel's failure to investigate the Petitioner's mental health, failure to explain the charges and the possible sentences if convicted after a trial, advising the Petitioner to plead guilty because he would be convicted at a trial and would be ordered to serve consecutive sentences, failing to investigate his case or to formulate a defense, and failing to review the guilty plea forms before the guilty plea hearing.

         Guilty Plea Proceedings

According to the State's recitation of the facts in case number 14-02150,
on June 21, 2013, Devin Champion was with Mr. Jones and [a codefendant] when [the codefendant] shot Mr. Champion and then Mr. Jones also shot Mr. Champion. They put him in the trunk and took him to another location and Mr. Jones shot him again, leaving [Mr. Champion] for dead.
They were in a stolen car . . . that the three of them had stolen earlier that day with the property of the victim's in that car as well. T hey took certain items from Mr. Champion after they shot him in the field and put him in the trunk and took him to another field. They set fire to the vehicle that they had stolen earlier that day . . . .
According to the State's recitation of the facts in case number 14-02151,
on June 6, 2013, the victim . . . was called to deliver pizza . . . . There he encountered [a codefendant] . . . as well as Mr. Jones. [The codefendant] and Mr. Jones robbed the victim Mr. Levy, and Mr. Jones shot him one time in the stomach.

         The Petitioner stipulated to the factual basis for the guilty pleas, and counsel stated that the Petitioner was pleading guilty as a Range II offender to "avoid the possibility of the time." During the colloquy with the trial court, the Petitioner stated that he had signed the petition for waiver of a trial and request for acceptance of his guilty pleas and that he had reviewed the documents with counsel. The Petitioner stated that he understood he had the right to plead not guilty and to proceed to a trial, to cross-examine the State's witnesses, to present defense witnesses, and to testify on his own behalf. He said he understood that it was his decision whether to testify at a trial and that he had the right to appeal a conviction after a trial. H e understood that by pleading guilty he was giving up those rights and that he wanted the court to find him guilty without a jury based upon ...


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