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State v. Hodge

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

July 29, 2019

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
CHARLES SINCLAIR HODGE

          Assigned on Briefs May 15, 2019

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2016-B-933 Mark J. Fishburn, Judge.

         A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Charles Sinclair Hodge, of aggravated assault resulting in death and criminally negligent homicide, and the trial court ordered him to serve two years in confinement for criminally negligent homicide and five years on supervised probation for aggravated assault after completing the two-year sentence. The trial court then merged the convictions. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court's sentencing him for both convictions and entering two separate judgments of conviction violate double jeopardy principles. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we conclude that the trial court properly entered two separate judgments of conviction as required by our supreme court; however, the case must be remanded to the trial court because of errors in sentencing.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Criminal Court Affirmed in Part, Reversed in Part, Case Remanded

          Kevin Kelly, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Charles Sinclair Hodge.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Ronald L. Coleman, Assistant Attorney General; Glenn R. Funk, District Attorney General; and Brian Ewald, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Norma McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Camille R. McMullen and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          NORMA MCGEE OGLE, JUDGE

         I. Factual Background

         In June 2016, the Davidson County Grand Jury indicted the Appellant for second degree murder and aggravated assault resulting in death. The victim of the alleged offenses was Charles Wade. After a trial, the jury convicted the Appellant of criminally negligent homicide as a lesser-included offense of second degree murder and aggravated assault as charged in the indictment.

         The Appellant does not contest the sufficiency of the evidence and has not included the trial transcript in the appellate record. However, the Appellant's presentence report, which the State introduced into evidence at the sentencing hearing, and the transcript of the sentencing hearing are in the record. According to the presentence report, the victim and the Appellant got into a verbal argument, which turned physical. They began fighting, and the Appellant stabbed the victim with a pocketknife. The victim continued to fight the Appellant until the victim finally collapsed from massive blood loss. The Appellant fled to his home, telephoned the police, and reported the fight. The victim later died at a hospital due to a small but deep laceration that cut an artery behind his right ear. The Appellant admitted stabbing the victim but claimed he did so in self-defense. Video obtained from the location of the incident did not show who started the fight.

         At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, the trial court stated that "obviously" the convictions would merge but that the court was required to sentence the Appellant for both convictions. The trial court sentenced the Appellant as a Range I, standard offender to two years in confinement for the criminally negligent homicide conviction, a Class E felony, and five years on supervised probation for the aggravated assault conviction, a Class C felony. That same day, the trial court entered two judgments of conviction reflecting the Appellant's sentences. On the judgment form for aggravated assault, the trial court wrote that the Appellant was to serve the five-year sentence "upon completion" of the two-year sentence. Moreover, in the "Special Conditions" box on each document, the trial court noted that the convictions merged.

         II. Analysis

         The Appellant contends that the trial court's imposition of two separate sentences and entry of two separate judgments of conviction violate the Double Jeopardy Clause. He asserts that because the lesser offense of criminally negligent homicide merged into the greater offense of aggravated assault resulting in death, his two-year sentence for criminally negligent homicide must be vacated and the case remanded to the trial court for entry of a single judgment of ...


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