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State v. Edwards

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

May 15, 2019


          Assigned on Briefs February 5, 2019

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Tipton County No. 7813, 7814 Joe H. Walker, III, Judge.

         The defendant, Ronnie Joe Edwards, Jr., appeals the order of the trial court revoking his probation and ordering him to serve his original five-year sentence in confinement. Upon review of the record, we conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding the defendant violated the terms of his probation and the imposed sentence is proper. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

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

          Matthew C. Edwards, Bolivar, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ronnie Joe Edwards, Jr.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jonathan H. Wardle, Assistant Attorney General; Mark E. Davidson, District Attorney General; and Jason Poyner, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          J. Ross Dyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams, P.J., and Camille R. McMullen, J., joined.


          J. ROSS DYER, JUDGE.

         Facts and Procedural History

         After pleading nolo contendere to facilitation of aggravated robbery (case number 7813) and possession of a schedule IV controlled substance (case number 7814) on March 31, 2014, the trial court sentenced the defendant to three years in case number 7813 and two years in case number 7814 to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-11-403; 39-13-402; 39-17-417. The trial court ran the three-year sentence consecutively to the two-year sentence for an effective sentence of five years' confinement. The trial court then suspended the defendant's sentence and placed him on five years of supervised probation. The terms of probation required the defendant to obey all laws, to report any arrests to his probation officer, to not use any intoxicants or possess any illegal drugs and submit to random drug screens, and to pay all required fees to the Supervision and Criminal Injuries fund or as ordered by the trial court.

         While on probation, the defendant was arrested on September 14, 2017 and September 19, 2017. A probation violation warrant issued on October 7, 2017, detailing the arrests by stating: the defendant was arrested by the Whiteville Police Department on September 14, 2017, for possession of a schedule IV controlled substance, possession of a schedule VI controlled substance, and introduction of contraband into a penal facility. The defendant was subsequently arrested by the Tipton County Sheriff's Department on September 19, 2017, for possession of a schedule II controlled substance. The probation violation warrant also alleged the defendant failed to report his arrests to his probation officer after being released on bond, possessed illegal drugs on the dates of his arrests, and "failed to pay toward his probation fees since being placed on probation." The trial court conducted a probation revocation hearing on April 13, 2018.

         At the hearing, Tennessee Department of Correction officer, Justin Tubbs, testified he responded to an incident at the Whiteville Correctional Facility on September 14, 2017. Upon arrival, Officer Tubbs learned a correctional officer, Cassandra Thomas, introduced narcotics into the prison facility. After searching Ms. Thomas's vehicle, the officers "found a[n] orange and white Nike shoebox in there that also contained other narcotics." The shoebox "had a green sticker on it" and displayed the number "736" which identified a Hibbitt's store in Covington, Tennessee as the point of origin for the shoebox. Officer Tubbs interviewed Ms. Thomas who admitted to bringing narcotics into the prison facility and to possessing the narcotics found in her vehicle. Specifically, the search revealed:

She introduced 52 Xanax pills, 2.79 ounces of marijuana, and then whenever I searched her vehicle, she had another 8.2 ounces of marijuana, black tape, packages of tobacco, and cellphones. The black tape is indicative of the packages that are introduced into the facility.

         Ms. Thomas also provided a statement wherein she detailed she met the defendant at a gas station in Brownsville, Tennessee and he gave her the shoebox and drugs ...

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