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State v. Wheeler

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

October 17, 2019

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
MARTEZ WHEELER

          Assigned on Briefs September 4, 2019

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 14-06098 James M. Lammey, Judge

         The pro se Defendant, Martez Wheeler, appeals the trial court's summary dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence, pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. After thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          Martez Wheeler, Harstville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jonathan H. Wardle, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Bryce Phillips, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Robert L. Holloway, Jr., and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE.

         FACTS

         On December 4, 2014, the Defendant was indicted by a Shelby County Grand Jury on two counts of attempted first degree murder, two counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and one count of evading arrest. On October 5, 2015, the Defendant pled guilty to two counts of attempted first degree murder and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and the State dismissed the remaining charges. The Defendant received concurrent 20-year sentences for the two attempted murder convictions and a six-year consecutive sentence for the firearm conviction, for a total effective sentence of 26 years. The Defendant did not appeal.

         On October 16, 2018, the Defendant filed a pro se "Motion for Correction of Illegal Sentence." In his motion, the Defendant asserted that his sentence was "not authorized by applicable statutes" because "with a charge [of] Criminal Attempt to Commit First Degree Murder where a gun is part of the crime, Tennessee Code Annotated §39-17-1324, cannot be used to increase it again." The trial court summarily dismissed the Defendant's motion by written order on November 13, 2018, finding that he had not stated a colorable claim for relief from an illegal sentence.

         ANALYSIS

         The Defendant argues on appeal, as he argued in his Rule 36.1 motion, that he received illegal sentences for his attempted murder and firearm convictions because he could not be convicted of both attempted first degree murder and the firearm charge because the firearm was used to commit the attempted first degree murder.

         Rule 36.1 provides "a mechanism for the defendant or the State to seek to correct an illegal sentence." State v. Brown, 479 S.W.3d 200, 208-09 (Tenn. 2015). An illegal sentence is defined as "one that is not authorized by the applicable statutes or that directly contravenes an applicable statute." Tenn. R. Crim. P. 36.1(a). When a defendant files a motion under Rule 36.1, the trial court must determine whether the motion "states a colorable claim that the sentence is illegal." Tenn. R. Crim. P. 36.1(b). In the context of Rule 36.1, a colorable claim is a claim that, "if taken as true and viewed in a light most ...


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