Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs November 14, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Lawrence County No. 33394 Robert
L. Jones, Judge
Defendant, Gregory Lee Gordon, pled guilty to aggravated
assault by strangulation, a Class C felony, and after a
sentencing hearing, was ordered to serve nine years in the
Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that
the trial court erred in denying his request for an
alternative sentence. After review, we affirm the sentencing
decision of the trial court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Brandon E. White, Columbia, Tennessee (on appeal); Claudia S.
Jack, District Public Defender; and Robert H. Stovall,
Assistant Public Defender (at hearing), for the appellant,
Gregory Lee Gordon.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Katherine C. Redding, Assistant Attorney General; Brent A.
Cooper, District Attorney General; and Gary M. Howell,
Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State
E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
John Everett Williams and Norma McGee Ogle, JJ., joined.
E. GLENN, JUDGE.
Defendant was indicted for aggravated rape, aggravated
assault by strangulation, especially aggravated kidnapping,
and tampering with evidence arising out of his encounter with
the victim on June 13, 2015. On January 12, 2017, the
Defendant pled guilty to aggravated assault with the sentence
to be determined by the trial court following a hearing. As
part of the plea, the remaining charges were dismissed, and
the parties agreed that the Defendant would not be sentenced
as more than a Range II offender.
trial court conducted a sentencing hearing, at which Alisha
Helton with the Tennessee Department of Correction's
Probation and Parole Office testified that she prepared the
Defendant's presentence report. The report contained the
Defendant's verified criminal history, spanning a time
period from 1987 to 2014 and nine pages of the presentence
report. The report also contained the Defendant's history
of supervision, including times he was placed on probation or
paroled. Ms. Helton testified that a risk assessment of the
Defendant was included in the presentence report. The
assessment showed the Defendant to be high risk for violent
behavior, low risk for friends, low to moderate risk for
attitudes and behaviors, and moderate to high risk for
aggression. Ms. Helton said that the Defendant was also
assessed using the Vermont Assessment Tool for Sex Offender
Re-Offense because he was on the sex offender registry, and
he scored high on the assessment, meaning GPS monitoring
would be required if he were placed on probation.
Agency Statement in the presentence report detailed that the
victim conveyed that she and the Defendant were dating, and
they met the evening of the incident to discuss the future of
their relationship and the Defendant's past history. The
Defendant got into the victim's car and drove around to
talk and procure some crack cocaine. The Defendant drove to a
wooded area where he forced the victim to perform oral sex on
him and became angry when she did not do so satisfactorily.
The Defendant then hit the victim repeatedly on her head and
also tried to suffocate and choke her. He forced her into the
trunk of the car and drove around. The Defendant subsequently
made several stops, including times he stopped and hit the
victim on the head with a flashlight and threatened her with
a screwdriver, as well as a time he forced her to wash off in
a creek. The Defendant also took the victim to a gym
"where he made her take a shower to remove the blood
from her hair and body."
Blake Grooms with the Lawrenceburg Police Department, one of
the investigators in the case, recalled that the police
collected swabs of several reddish-brown stains, indicative
of blood, from various items, which were compared to swabs
taken from the Defendant and the victim. Swabs from the seal
inside the car trunk were positive for the victim's
blood. Swabs from the shower area of the gym returned a DNA
profile consistent with a mixture of at least two
individuals, including at least one male, and the victim as
the major contributor. The police searched the
Defendant's phone and found a text message from the
offense date in which the Defendant said, "Me and Girl
went out last night, she got drunk and started running her
mouth as usual and smacked me. I kicked her ass." On
cross-examination, Investigator Grooms confirmed that the
victim was not present at the sentencing hearing to testify
about what happened.
Defendant acknowledged that he "kind of over did it with
[the victim]." He said that the victim drank a
twelve-pack of beer while they were together, but he did not
drink. They made three or four trips to buy cocaine, and an
"argument developed over who was going to use the last
part of the cocaine." They also argued about a woman who
called the Defendant while he and the victim were together.
The Defendant admitted that he hit the victim in the head
with his hand and that she sustained a "small slit"
as a result. He also admitted that he grabbed the victim by
the neck and pushed her against the car window while he was
driving but denied "choking her out." He further
denied hitting the victim on the head with a flashlight. He
did not know how the victim's blood got on the head of
the flashlight, but he explained that they had used the
flashlight while they were "getting high." The
Defendant said that the victim got into the trunk voluntarily
to hide from a drug dealer who refused to sell to the
Defendant when the victim was present. The Defendant could
not explain, however, how the victim's blood got inside
the trunk when the fight allegedly occurred after that final
drug purchase. ...