Assigned on Briefs September 7, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Hardin County No. 16-CR-11 C.
Creed McGinley, Judge
Hardin County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant,
Darlene F. Hottiman, of operating a motor vehicle after
having been declared a motor vehicle habitual offender, a
Class E felony, and driving on a revoked license, a Class A
misdemeanor, and she received an effective four-year sentence
to be served in confinement. On appeal, the Appellant
contends that the evidence is insufficient to support her
convictions due to her defense of necessity; that the trial
court made improper comments to an alternate juror, made
improper comments about the length of jury deliberations, and
made improper comments about plea negotiations during the
sentencing hearing; and that the trial court improperly
enhanced her felony sentence based upon her prior criminal
history and should have granted her request for probation.
Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm
the judgments of the trial court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Circuit
Lee Dicus, Jr., Savannah, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Darlene F. Hottiman.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Caitlin Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Matthew Stowe,
District Attorney General; and Vance Dennis, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of
McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and J. Ross Dyer, J., joined.
MCGEE OGLE, JUDGE
Keith Amos of the Hardin County Sheriff's Department
testified that on August 27, 2015, he was driving on 3
Wheeler Lane, which he described as a public "gravel
dirt" road. A gold Ford Explorer was traveling toward
him from the opposite direction, and he saw the Appellant
driving the vehicle. He said that he knew the Appellant did
not have a driver's license, that he turned his patrol
car around, and that he activated his car's emergency
equipment. The Appellant pulled over, and Investigator Amos
approached the Explorer. He asked the Appellant where she was
going and if she "did get her license back." She
told him that she was "sick" and that she was
"going to someone's house for them to take her to
the doctor." Investigator Amos "ran" the
Appellant's information through dispatch, and dispatch
advised him that she had been declared a motor vehicle
habitual offender and that her license had been revoked.
Amos testified that the Appellant gave him consent to search
the Explorer, that he searched it for weapons and narcotics,
and that he did not find anything. He also searched her purse
and found one prescription bottle for fluoxetine, which was a
generic version of Prozac, and one prescription bottle for
gabapentin. He said that the Appellant was not exhibiting any
signs of physical trauma at that time but that she kept
telling him she was sick. She did not tell him about any
Amos testified that two other officers arrived and that he
told the Appellant he was going to arrest her for
"driving offenses." He said that as he was talking
to the other officers, he turned around and saw that the
Appellant "had opened [the fluoxetine bottle] and poured
a handful of pills out attempting to put them in her
mouth." The officers removed about ten pills from the
Appellant's mouth, and she fell to the ground.
Investigator Amos said that he did not know how many pills
the Appellant swallowed, so he called for medical assistance
"to check her out."
Amos testified that an ambulance arrived and that medical
personnel told him the Appellant was conscious but not
responding to them. They transported the Appellant to an
emergency room, and she stayed in the hospital overnight for
observation. She was released from the hospital the next day,
and a police officer arrested her and transported her to
cross-examination, Investigator Amos testified that he knew
the Appellant "from prior arrests" and that she was
not speeding, was wearing her seatbelt, and was maintaining
her lane of travel when he stopped her on August 27. After
the stop, the Appellant kept telling him that she was sick
and that she did not want to go to jail. She also told him
that she was trying to get someone to take her to the doctor.
However, she did not ask for an ambulance and did not tell
him that she had a stroke in 2009. After Investigator Amos
told the Appellant that she was going to jail, she
"attempted to harm herself" by swallowing the
pills. She fell to the ground about twenty seconds later.
Another officer administered a "sternum rub" to the
Appellants' chest, but she was unresponsive. Investigator
Amos acknowledged that a sternum rub was painful and that it
"would probably wake you up if you were trying to
Appellant testified in her own behalf that she was fifty-six
years old, that she had been declared a motor vehicle
habitual offender in 1994, and that she had been unable to
get her driver's license reinstated. The Appellant said
that in 2009, she was diagnosed with TIA or "mini
strokes" and that her symptoms at that time were
headaches and dizziness. The Appellant said that on August
27, 2015, she was driving because she was "sick."
I had a bad headache and dizzy. I called my cousin[, Cindy
Franks, and] asked her would she take me to the hospital,
because I felt like I was having a stroke like I did before.
And she said, no, come to my house. She told she told me if I
could get over there to pick her up she would.
Appellant telephoned another friend but that friend had a
broken leg and could not drive. The Appellant also called her
son but was unable to contact him. She said she usually did
not drive and was on ...