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State v. Norris

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

June 21, 2019

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
MATTHEW HOWARD NORRIS

          Assigned on Briefs April 23, 2019 at Knoxville

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Putnam County Nos. 17-CR-546, 17-CR-616, 17-CR-667 David A. Patterson, Judge

         The Defendant, Matthew Howard Norris, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft of property valued at more than $2, 500 and one count of burglary in exchange for an effective eight-year sentence. At a subsequent sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered that the eight-year sentence be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court erred when it denied his request for judicial diversion and for alternative sentencing. After review, we conclude that the trial court failed to consider the appropriate factors in determining the issue of judicial diversion; therefore, we reverse and remand for a new sentencing hearing.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Criminal Court Reversed and Remanded

          Craig P. Fickling, District Public Defender, and Allison R. West, Assistant Public Defender, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Matthew Howard Norris.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Bryant C. Dunaway, District Attorney General; and Beth E. Willis, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr. JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ROBERT W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE

         I. Facts

         The Defendant was arrested for participating in repeated burglaries of storage units. On July 10, 2017, a Putnam County grand jury indicted the Defendant in Case Number 546 for theft of property valued over $2, 500 on February 22, 2017, in Case Number 616 for burglary and theft of property valued over $2, 500 on February 4, 2017, and in Case Number 667 for burglary and theft of property valued over $2, 500 in late December 2016. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Defendant entered a guilty plea to the theft charge in Case Number 546, the burglary charge in Case Number 616, and the theft charge in Case Number 667. The agreement provided that the sentence for each conviction would be four years, with the two sentences for the theft convictions to run concurrently and the sentence for the burglary conviction to run consecutively, for an effective sentence of eight years. The parties agreed to allow the trial court to determine manner of service of the sentence. As part of the plea agreement, the State dismissed the other charges in the indictments related to this appeal in addition to dismissing charges from unrelated indictments.

         At the guilty plea hearing, the State offered the following factual basis in support of the trial court's acceptance of the Defendant's guilty pleas.

On 667, sometime between the dates of December 31st of '16 and January 3rd of '17, a storage unit on Pigeon Road was broken into. The victim reported several unit items that went missing, including ten machetes, a Beretta holster, three sets of soft body armor, a tactical vest, and multiple other items of military equipment. Detective, former Detective Ken Fry, who is now a sergeant on nights, but, anyways, investigated the case, developed [the Defendant] as a suspect. On a later case, his phone was confiscated. A search warrant was issued and executed on that search warrant -- or on that cellphone, and on the cellphone there were pictures of these items that I said earlier, the military equipment on his cellphone with text messages trying to sell those items to individuals. . . .
On case [6]16, Detective Fry also investigated this case. This is a situation where on February the 4th of 2017, Officer Gibbs, with the Cookeville Police Department, responded to another storage unit being broken into. When he arrived there, there was a car there that the [D]efendant had brought to the scene. He was there, along with a co-defendant, and they were caught in the middle of the burglary at that time. The victim was subsequently found out and was called to the scene to identify all the property that was taken from the storage unit there. That car that was sitting there, that the [D]efendant had brought to the scene, there was a scooter that was pushed halfway into the back seat where him and a co-defendant had tried to steal that scooter, and were in the process of pulling the scooter into the car when they were caught by the officers. There was also multiple other items that were found, some Nintendos, some Nintendo Play Stations, some computers, some Nintendo games, a bow, a sword, just multiple items belonging to this victim, which the victim ...

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