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State v. Bentley

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

November 4, 2019

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
DAVID MITCHELL BENTLEY

          Assigned on Briefs July 16, 2019

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2017-A-504 Seth W. Norman, Judge

         The Appellant, David Mitchell Bentley, pled guilty in the Davidson County Criminal Court to reckless aggravated assault, a Class D felony, and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury, a Class A misdemeanor. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered that he serve consecutive sentences of three years and eleven months, twenty-nine days, respectively, in confinement. On appeal, the Appellant contends that we should remand this case to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing. In the alternative, he contends that the trial court improperly enhanced his felony sentence and failed to apply mitigating factors, that the trial court erred by ordering consecutive sentencing, and that the trial court erred by ordering that he serve his sentences in continuous confinement. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we conclude that a new sentencing hearing is necessary because the trial court failed to place any findings on the record with regard to applicable enhancement factors, the order of consecutive sentencing, and the denial of alternative sentencing. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is reversed, and the case is remanded to the trial court.

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

          Emma Rae Tennent (on appeal) and Keeda Haynes (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, David Mitchell Bentley.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Ruth Anne Thompson, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Glenn R. Funk, District Attorney General; and Dan Hamm and Rebecca Valiquette, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Norma McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall and Alan E. Glenn, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          NORMA MCGEE OGLE, JUDGE

         I. Factual Background

         In March 2017, the Davidson County Grand Jury indicted the Appellant for tampering with evidence in count one, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury in count two, failing to report an accident in count three, and driving on a revoked license, second offense, in count four. On May 3, 2018, the Appellant pled guilty to an amended charge of reckless aggravated assault in count one and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury in count two, and the State dismissed the remaining counts. At the plea hearing, the State gave the following factual account of the crimes:

[T]he proof would show that in Count 1, we would amend that count to reckless aggravated assault. On his plea of guilty to that, the sentence would be -- there'd be a sentencing hearing, but the facts would be that: On or about the 17th day of October, 2016, the defendant did act in a way that would cause people at large, due to his driving, to be under fear of great bodily harm due to his reckless driving. On his plea of guilty to that charge, there would be a sentencing hearing at a later date.
On his plea of guilty to Count 2, the facts would show that: On or about the same day, the defendant did leave the scene of an accident, involving a motor vehicle accident, without giving aid or comfort or notifying the proper authority, violating the statute, leaving the scene of an accident. On his plea of guilty to that, there would be a request for a sentencing hearing at a later date.

         Before the Appellant's sentencing hearing, the State filed a notice for enhanced punishment based upon the Appellant's having a prior conviction of driving under the influence (DUI) and evading arrest and a motion for consecutive sentencing based upon his being an offender whose criminal record was extensive. The State also filed a statement of enhancement factors, arguing that the following factors applied to his felony sentence: (1) "[t]he defendant has a previous history of . . . criminal behavior, in addition to those necessary to establish the appropriate range"; (4) "[t]he victim of the offense was particularly vulnerable because of age or physical or mental disability"; (6) "[t]he personal injuries inflicted upon, or the amount of damage to property sustained by or taken from, the victim was particularly great"; and (9) "[t]he defendant possessed or employed a firearm, explosive device or other deadly weapon during the commission of the offense." Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-114(1), (4), (6), (9).

         At the Appellant's August 15, 2018 sentencing hearing, David Lloyd testified that on October 17, 2016, he was walking home from a store when a vehicle being driven by the Appellant hit him. The Appellant did not stop. Lloyd, who had poor vision prior to the incident, was in intensive care at Vanderbilt Hospital for one month, spent an additional two months in the hospital, and was left totally blind. He said that he used to be able to work, even with his poor vision. After the incident, though, he could not find a job, and his long-term memory was "obliterated." He said he knew his way around his house and could microwave food but could no longer cook, clean, or go to the store. He stated that he received Social Security disability, that his parents and brother helped him with his day-to-day living, and that he spent his days eating and listening to ...


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