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Wilson v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

June 20, 2018


          Assigned on Briefs May 22, 2018

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 109895 Bobby R. McGee, Judge

         The Petitioner, Edward Wilson, pled guilty to possession of heroin with the intent to sell, possession of cocaine with the intent to sell, and possession of marijuana with the intent to sell and to five misdemeanors, which consisted mainly of traffic offenses, in exchange for an agreed-upon effective sentence of twenty years of imprisonment as a Range II, multiple offender. He filed a timely post-conviction petition asserting that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to inform him that he was pleading guilty to multiple offenses and by failing to litigate a motion to suppress. The post-conviction court denied relief, finding that the Petitioner had failed to establish either deficiency or prejudice. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

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

          J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Edward Wilson.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Alexander C. Vey, Assistant Attorney General; Charme P. Allen, District Attorney General; and Ta Kisha M. Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          John Everett Williams, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., joined.




         The record in the instant case does not contain the indictments or technical record from the underlying charges, but we glean from the plea hearing that the Petitioner's pleas arose from offenses committed on three separate dates in 2015. The Petitioner was charged with committing on March 23, 2015, the offenses of driving on a suspended license and violation of the financial responsibility law. The Petitioner was then arrested for simple possession of marijuana, driving under the influence, and driving on a suspended license for offenses occurring on April 18, 2015. On May 1, 2015, [1] the Petitioner's residence was searched pursuant to a warrant, and law enforcement recovered 0.9 grams of heroin, three hundred grams of cocaine, and two hundred grams combined of marijuana wax and marijuana butter. The drugs were packaged for resale.

         The Petitioner waived his preliminary hearing and indictment and entered guilty pleas to all eight offenses. The Petitioner pled guilty as a Range II, multiple offender, with a release eligibility percentage of thirty-five percent. He was to be sentenced to twenty years for the heroin conviction, twenty years for the cocaine conviction, and four years for the felony marijuana conviction, and these convictions were to be served concurrently for an effective twenty-year sentence. The Petitioner was sentenced to serve two days in jail for driving under the influence and was assessed a fine for violation of the financial responsibility law. He was sentenced to serve one day in jail for the remaining misdemeanor offenses, and he was ordered to pay certain fines. Because the felonies were committed while the Petitioner was released on bond, the misdemeanor offenses were ordered to be served consecutively to the felonies but concurrently with one another.

         At the plea hearing, the prosecutor recited the charges and agreed-upon pleas, including that the Petitioner would be pleading guilty to both the heroin and cocaine charges and that he would be sentenced to twenty years for each, to be served concurrently. The Petitioner affirmed that he understood the rights he was waiving and that he was not being coerced into pleading guilty. The trial court confirmed that the Petitioner understood that his sentences for the felony convictions would be twenty years, twenty years, and four years, served concurrently. The Petitioner stated that he did not have any questions to ask the court, and his pleas were accepted by the court.

         The Petitioner subsequently filed a timely post-conviction petition, which was amended by post-conviction counsel. The petition included allegations that the Petitioner's trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by misinforming him that he was only pleading guilty to possession of cocaine when he was in fact pleading guilty to additional charges and by failing to challenge an illegal search.

         At the post-conviction hearing, trial counsel testified that he did not expect to receive a plea offer from the prosecutor and that he had examined the search warrant in preparation for the preliminary hearing. Trial counsel felt that the affidavit which was the basis of the warrant was flawed under the Aguilar-Spinelli test, [2] and his strategy was to get the law enforcement officer who was the affiant to commit to her testimony at the preliminary hearing so that he could challenge the warrant in a suppression hearing. Trial counsel discussed this strategy with the Petitioner. Trial counsel then spoke with the prosecutor at the scheduled preliminary hearing and informed her generally that he intended to challenge the warrant. After a consultation between the prosecutor and the warrant's affiant, the Petitioner was presented the plea offer in which he would serve an effective twenty-year sentence in exchange for the guilty pleas. The prosecutor further asserted that if the Petitioner ...

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