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State v. Whiteside

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

July 16, 2019

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
CEDRICK DEWAYNE WHITESIDE

          Assigned on Briefs May 7, 2019

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Henderson County No. 17221-3 Kyle Atkins, Judge

         Defendant, Cedrick Dewayne Whiteside, was found guilty of driving under the influence of an intoxicant, criminal impersonation, driving on a cancelled, suspended, or revoked, license, and failure to exercise due care. On appeal, he argues that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient for the trier of fact to find him guilty of driving under the influence of an intoxicant and for failure to exercise due care. In light of the evidence presented, we uphold Defendant's driving under the influence conviction but reverse and dismiss the jury's finding of failure to exercise due care.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed in Part; Reversed and Dismissed in Part

          George Morton Googe, District Public Defender; and Hayley F. Johnson, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Cedrick Dewayne Whiteside.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Assistant Attorney General; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Eric V. Wood and Matthew A. Floyd, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

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

          OPINION

          THOMAS T. WOODALL, JUDGE

         Factual Background

         This case arises from Defendant's arrest on April 14, 2017 following a single vehicle wreck. Subsequently, the Henderson County Grand Jury charged Defendant with the following five counts: count one, driving under the influence of an intoxicant in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-401; count two, reckless endangerment in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-103; count three, criminal impersonation in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-16-301; count four, driving on a cancelled, suspended or revoked license in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-50-504; and count five, failing to exercise due care in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-8-136. Defendant's reckless endangerment charge was dismissed nolle prosequi prior to trial.

         Following a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty on all four counts presented to the jury. The trial court ordered all of Defendant's sentences to be served concurrently with each other for a total effective sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days. Defendant did not file a motion for a new trial but filed an appeal to this Court on September 17, 2018, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence presented to convict him of driving under the influence and failing to exercise due care.

         Trial

         On April 14, 2017, between ten and eleven o'clock p.m., Trooper Douglas Williams of the Tennessee Highway Patrol was dispatched to a single vehicle crash on Interstate 40 in Henderson County. Prior to arriving on the scene, Trooper Williams was assisting another motorist approximately a mile away, and a dash camera on his patrol vehicle began recording as he left to investigate Defendant's accident. The dash camera, as well as the camera recording the activity in the back seat of the vehicle, was admitted into evidence. After arriving upon the scene, Trooper Williams located Defendant's Jeep Cherokee on an embankment facing north off of the road. The vehicle had been traveling west bound on Interstate 40 when it wrecked near the 104 mile-marker.

         Trooper Williams testified that after exiting his vehicle, he immediately "check[ed] the crash scene to see if any injured persons [were] there." Defendant was standing near the vehicle, and a female passenger was stuck inside with the car, which was still running. Trooper Williams determined Defendant to be the driver of the vehicle because the trapped passenger was in the front right seat. Trooper Williams testified that his main concern initially was to get her out of the vehicle because the "Jeep was smoking" and he did not want her to "burn up in it[.]" Trooper Williams successfully turned off the vehicle and shifted its gear into the park position. He explained that during this process he noticed an open container of alcohol in the vehicle and determined that the female passenger was intoxicated. ...


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