Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Session June 18, 2019
from the Circuit Court for Coffee County No. 41726-F Vanessa
Douglas Edward Christian, was convicted of Class B felony
possession of .5 grams or more of methamphetamine, a Schedule
II controlled substance, with the intent to sell or deliver
(Count 1); Class B felony possession of .5 grams or more of
cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance, with the intent
to sell or deliver (Count 2); Class D felony possession of a
Schedule III controlled substance, Bu[p]reno[r]phine, with
the intent to sell or deliver (Count 3); and Class A
misdemeanor possession of marijuana, a Schedule VI controlled
substance (Count 4). The trial court sentenced Defendant to
an effective term of twenty-years as a Range II offender. On
appeal, Defendant claims that the trial court
"erroneously used foreign judgments" to sentence
him as a Range II offender, considered unsubstantiated
information in sentencing him, wrongly denied pretrial jail
credits, and erred by denying Defendant his right to a speedy
trial. After a thorough review of the record and briefs, we
affirm the judgments of the trial court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Circuit
Justice (on appeal), Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and Bud L.
Sharp (at trial) McMinnville, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Douglas Edward Christian.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; M.
Todd Ridley, Assistant Attorney General; Craig Northcott,
District Attorney General; and Joshua C. Powell, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of
L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which John Everett Williams, P.J., and D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.,
L. HOLLOWAY, JR., JUDGE.
Defendant claims that he was denied his right to a speedy
trial, we will include numerous dates in the procedural
background section of this opinion.
March 2015, the Coffee County Grand Jury returned a
four-count indictment in Case No. 41, 726F charging Defendant
with Class B felony possession of .5 grams or more of
methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance, with the
intent to sell or deliver (Count 1); Class B felony
possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine, a Schedule II
controlled substance, with the intent to sell or deliver
(Count 2); Class D felony possession of a Schedule III
controlled substance, Bu[p]reno[r]phine, with the intent to
sell or deliver (Count 3); and Class A misdemeanor possession
of marijuana, a Schedule VI controlled substance (Count 4).
After being released on bond, Defendant failed to appear for
arraignment and was rearrested on May 11, 2015. Although he
was denied bond, he was mistakenly released from custody. On
August 8, 2015, Defendant was arrested on new charges.
January 5, 2016, Defendant's retained counsel filed a
pretrial motion to suppress, a motion for medical care, and a
motion to set or lower bond. The State responded to the
motions on February 8. After numerous discussions with the
State, retained counsel filed amended motions on February 23,
2016. Because of the expected time required to argue the
motions, the parties agreed to a special setting. On May 27,
2016, Defendant filed a motion to suppress statements and a
motion to suppress text messages. On June 1, 2016, the
parties appeared in court, and the motions were set for
argument. On July 14, 2016, the motions were argued.
20, 2016, retained counsel moved to withdraw. On August 1,
the trial court entered orders setting a $250, 000
"blanket bond" for this case and three other cases
pending against Defendant, granting Defendant's motion to
be provided with proper diabetic care, and denying the other
motions. New counsel entered an appearance on September 7,
2016, and filed a motion to reduce bond and a "Motion
for a Fast and Speedy Trial" on September 13, 2016.
April 5, 2017, the trial court heard Defendant's
"Motion for a Fast and Speedy Trial" in this case
before starting the jury trial in Case No. 42, 4567F. After
argument of counsel, the trial court found that because the
case had been pending for over a year, there was "a
presumption of prejudice which triggers examination of the
next factors." After argument, the court denied the
If you look at the reasons for the delay, there's
absolutely no showing of any intent by the State to delay
this matter to the prejudice of the defendant or for any
tactical advantage. That's no showing of any bureaucratic
Quite frankly, most of the delay in this matter was
acquiesced to by the defense or was a result of waiting on
the defense to amend certain --their motions to suppress. It
appears that [the Assistant District Attorney] was very
diligent in communicating with defense counsel in trying to
get those motions in a position where they could be heard, so
that factor weighs against the defense in this case.
Again, the delay I believe was necessary for a fair
prosecution of the case because it was necessary to hear
those motions to suppress.
September 25, 2017, Defendant moved to sever his offenses in
the instant case, alleging that there were two separate
incidents. On September 27, 2017, Defendant filed another
motion to dismiss for failure to grant a speedy trial. On
October 16, the State moved to amend the indictment to remove
the word "sell" from Counts 1, 2, and 3. The motion
was granted the same day.
Defendant does not contest the sufficiency of the evidence,
we will limit our summary of the evidence presented at the
jury trial to that necessary to give context to the issues
case was tried by jury on October 17, 2017. Manchester Police
Department (MPD) Investigator Butch Stewart testified that he
received multiple text messages concerning Defendant on
November 2, 2014. The author of the text messages said that
Defendant was in a white Chevrolet Equinox but that she did
not know his location. Investigator Stewart was unable to
locate the vehicle. On November 3, 2014, Investigator Stewart
received additional text messages from a different person
stating that Defendant was at the Ambassador Motel in
Manchester to deliver drugs. Investigator Stewart and two
other MPD officers went to the motel to investigate.
Defendant was standing beside the Equinox when they arrived,
but he hurried into a motel room when he saw the officers.
Investigator Stewart and the MPD officers knocked on the
door. Defendant opened the door, was courteous to the
officers, and upon request gave officers permission to search
his motel room and the Equinox located in the parking lot.
Inside the motel room, officers found empty plastic bags in
the toilet. Inside the vehicle, Investigator Stewart found a
pill bottle containing cocaine. Defendant was arrested at
that time. Two days later, a motel maintenance employee
notified MPD that he found a bag of drugs clogging up the
toilet in the room Defendant had rented.
Stewart testified in detail concerning the drugs found in the
bag recovered from the toilet. He also testified about
telephone calls made by Defendant from jail that were
recorded. The recordings were played for the jury.
Investigator Stewart stated that, in one recording, Defendant
said that he "flushed everything," and all the
police found was little plastic bags. Defendant stated,
"I lost five or six thousand." Numerous texts
between Defendant and other individuals before Defendant
arrived in Manchester were introduced. Defendant sent a text
message stating that he had various drugs, including
"clear" which is crystal methamphetamine,
"girl" which is cocaine, pain pills, and
"loud" which is marijuana. Defendant asked one
person, who wanted to buy drugs, if she could get a ride to
Ambassador Inn. Defendant responded, "[C]ome to exit 110
Ambassador Inn go thru front its building on right go behind
u will see white van room 120." Shortly before Defendant
was arrested, he texted that he "was missing a pill
bottle with my girl and clear[.]"
jury found Defendant guilty of the charged offenses.
trial court conducted a sentencing hearing on November 29,
2017. At the beginning of the sentencing hearing, the State
announced that it would be relying on two previous
out-of-state convictions to establish that Defendant was a
Range II offender. Defense counsel "agree[d] that the
conviction in 1987 of a federal crime was [Defendant], and
there's another conviction from 1977 that [Defendant]