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State v. Edwards

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

June 19, 2018


          Assigned on Briefs February 27, 2018

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 105704 Scott Green, Judge

         Following the denial of her application for pretrial diversion, the defendant, Lisa Edwards, petitioned the Knox County Criminal Court for a writ of certiorari. The trial court denied the petition for writ of certiorari but granted the defendant's request for an interlocutory appeal pursuant to Rule 9 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. Because we find no abuse of discretion, we affirm the denial of pretrial diversion in this case.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 9; Judgment of the Criminal Court Affirmed

          Marcos Garza and Keith Lowe, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lisa Edwards.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Courtney N. Orr, Assistant Attorney General; Charme P. Allen, District Attorney General; and Ashley McDermott and Nathaniel Ogle, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          James Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.



         The Knox County Grand Jury charged the defendant with two counts of child abuse relating to abuse she allegedly committed against her twelve-year-old daughter, K.M., [1] in April 2015. The defendant submitted an application for pretrial diversion to the Knox County District Attorney General on May 26, 2016.

         On November 4, 2016, the district attorney's office filed its letter denying the defendant's application for pretrial diversion. The district attorney indicated in her recitation of the facts that the defendant had been charged with two counts of child abuse for physical abuse inflicted on the victim on April 4, 2015, and between April 6 and April 10, 2015. The district attorney indicated that she gleaned the facts of the incidents from interviews conducted on April 12 and 13 and the victim's testimony at an April 11, 2016 hearing. On April 4, 2015, the defendant yelled at and struck the victim after the defendant and the victim's father argued about the victim's wanting to go live with her father. The defendant called the police while the victim's father was at her residence, and while the police were speaking to the defendant, the victim telephoned 9-1-1 to report that the defendant had abused her. The victim "told the operator that she did not want to tell the officer what her mother had done in front of her mother because she did not know what [the defendant] would do to her." The defendant refused to allow the victim to speak to the officer alone, and the victim eventually told the officer that the defendant had not done "anything 'serious.'"

         Following this incident, the defendant "was physically violent toward" the victim and "screamed at her and waived her hands around." The defendant "tried to hit her and grab her face" and told the victim "that she wished that she were never born." The defendant also grabbed the victim's arms and scratched her. When the victim returned to her father's house the following week, she reported the abuse to him, and he insisted that she report the abuse to the police. The victim agreed, and she provided a report to the police that coincided with injuries she had on her body.

         The district attorney also noted that the victim had been subjected to physical abuse by the defendant from the time "she was seven or eight years old and that the abuse got worse as she got older." The victim reported that the defendant had blamed the victim for the breakup of her second marriage and "that when her stepfather left, [the defendant] hit her, screamed at her, and f[o]ught her more."

         During an interview at the ChildHelp USA center, the victim related that the defendant "'has anger problems'" and that she "said 'really mean stuff'" to the victim and "hit her." On at least one previous occasion, the defendant had threatened to kill the victim. The victim indicated that the abuse that resulted in the charges in this case came about because the victim had asked that she be allowed to live with her father.

         According to the district attorney, the victim's testimony at an April 11, 2016 evidentiary hearing mirrored her accounts of abuse at the hands of the defendant that she had previously provided to the police and to ChildHelp USA. The victim added that she thought her grandmother had confronted the defendant about the abuse after her grandmother witnessed the defendant behaving violently toward the victim at a restaurant. The ...

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