STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MARK A. VESTAL - Articles

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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Aug 7, 2013

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Gerald L. Gulley, Jr. (on appeal) and Mitchell Harper (at trial), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mark A. Vestal.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber and John Bledsoe, Assistant Attorneys General; Randall Nichols, District Attorney General; Jennifer Welch and Philip Morton, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): WEDEMEYER

In three separate cases tried together, a Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, Mark A. Vestal, of two counts of the sale of more than 0.5 grams of cocaine, one count of the sale of less than 0.5 grams of cocaine, and two counts of the delivery of less than 0.5 grams of cocaine. The trial court merged some of the convictions and entered judgments of conviction for: two counts of the sale of more than 0.5 grams of cocaine and one count of the sale of less than 0.5 grams of cocaine. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to a total effective sentence of sixty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”). On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it: (1) excluded him from voir dire without advising him that he had a constitutional right to be present for jury selection; and (2) ordered that his sentences run consecutively. After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we conclude that the trial court erred when it failed to inform the Defendant that he had a constitutional right to be present during jury selection. The Defendant’s judgments of conviction are reversed, and the case is remanded for a new trial.

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