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State v. Sexton

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

January 5, 2018

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
JOSEPH D. SEXTON

          Assigned on Briefs November 14, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Robertson County No. 74CC4-2016-CR-194 William R. Goodman III, Judge

         The Defendant, Joseph D. Sexton, entered an open guilty plea to one count of attempted aggravated sexual battery. The trial court held a sentencing hearing and sentenced the Defendant to five years of incarceration. The Defendant appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in calculating the length of the sentence based on the enhancing and mitigating factors presented and that the trial court erred in denying alternative sentencing. After a thorough review of the record, we determine that there was no abuse of discretion, and we affirm the trial court's judgment.

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

          H. Garth Click, Springfield, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joseph Daniel Sexton.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Ruth Anne Thompson, Senior Counsel; John W. Carney, District Attorney General; and Jason White, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          John Everett Williams, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and Alan E. Glenn, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          JOHN EVERETT WILLIAMS, JUDGE.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The Defendant was charged with three counts of aggravated sexual battery for crimes committed against his eleven-year-old daughter. The State entered into a plea agreement with the Defendant in which the State agreed to dismiss two of the counts in exchange for the Defendant's guilty plea to one count of the lesser included offense of attempted aggravated sexual battery. The parties agreed that the sentence would be determined by the trial court and that the Defendant should be sentenced as a standard, Range I offender, with a release eligibility of thirty percent.

         At the hearing on the guilty plea, the prosecutor recited the factual basis of the plea: that the Defendant had touched the victim's vaginal area while she was under thirteen years of age. He asserted that the Defendant had acknowledged his crime to the victim's mother. The Defendant agreed that he was guilty of the crime.

         At the sentencing hearing, the victim testified to the details of the crime. The Defendant and his wife adopted the victim and her older brother when the victim was three years old, and the victim knew them as her parents. When the victim was eleven, she woke up in the middle of the night and became aware that the Defendant had undone her bra and was touching her breasts. The Defendant then began to touch her vaginal area, and she "prayed and … told him to stop."

         The victim testified that her brother found out about the abuse and was very angry with the Defendant. The victim's brother began to sleep next to her bed every night in an effort to protect her. One day, the victim came home from school to discover that the Defendant had sent her brother away to live with the children's biological aunt, who had remained in frequent contact with them despite the adoption.

         About a year after the events that were the basis of the guilty plea, the victim's mother sent her to work with the Defendant, who was a handyman, as a punishment. The Defendant "asked [her] to do something, " and she refused. The Defendant confessed this incident to his wife before the victim had a chance to tell her. Although the ...


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