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Younger v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

December 19, 2019

VOLTAIRE YOUNGER
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs October 29, 2019

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 112252 Steven Wayne Sword, Judge

         The Petitioner, Voltaire Younger, appeals the post-conviction court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his guilty pleas to the possession of heroin with the intent to deliver and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The Petitioner received an effective sentence of fifteen years. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty pleas were not voluntarily entered. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

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

          Leslie M. Jeffress, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Voltaire Younger.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Charme Allen, District Attorney General; and Kenneth Irvine, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          John Everett Williams, P.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          JOHN EVERETT WILLIAMS, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plea Hearing

         The Petitioner was present when the Knox County Sheriff's Department executed a search warrant on October 6, 2015, at Ms. Markeisha Ellis's residence and seized multiple drugs. According to the State's recitation of facts at the plea hearing, the search warrant was based on several undercover heroin purchases made at that residence. Both the Petitioner and Ms. Ellis were at the residence when the officers arrived. During the search, law enforcement found "some heroin, some cocaine, a small amount of marijuana, small amount of pills, [and] some drug paraphernalia that's consistent with selling heroin." Officers also found a handgun. The prosecutor stated that the State would have offered proof at trial that established that this residence was within one thousand feet of a school. The State also offered evidence that after the Petitioner was advised of and waived his rights, he admitted to law enforcement that he had participated in selling heroin.

         The Petitioner was indicted for thirteen offenses.[1] The prosecutor announced at the plea hearing that the Petitioner had been indicted for possession of heroin with intent to sell within one thousand feet of a school but was pleading guilty to the lesser included offense of possession of heroin with intent to sell, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. § 39-17-417(b). The State recommended a twelve-year sentence to be served at thirty percent. The Petitioner also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm during the course of a dangerous felony, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. § 39-17-1324(a), (g)(1). The prosecutor explained that the Petitioner would have to serve a mandatory three-year sentence at one hundred percent and that the sentences would run consecutively to each other for an effective fifteen-year sentence. The remaining eleven counts of the indictment were dismissed pursuant to the plea agreement.

         The Petitioner acknowledged that he understood the terms of the plea agreement. The trial court specifically asked the Petitioner if he understood that he would be required to serve an effective sentence of fifteen years with three years to be served at one hundred percent and the remainder to be served a thirty percent, and the Petitioner indicated that he understood. The Petitioner acknowledged that he was entering the pleas voluntarily. The trial court accepted the Petitioner's pleas and postponed the entry of the final judgment so that the Petitioner would be allowed to spend the holidays with his family before reporting to serve his sentence on January 5, 2017. The Petitioner did not report on that day, and the trial court issued a capias. On February 10, 2017, the Petitioner turned himself him to law enforcement, and the State agreed not to pursue additional charges if the Petitioner aided in an ongoing investigation. The prosecutor stated that the Petitioner had provided "valuable information."

         Post-Conviction ...


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