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Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Sep 5, 2014

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Joseph P. Atnip, District Public Defender; and Noel H. Riley, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Mark Elihu Cooper.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Assistant Attorney General; Thomas A. Thomas, District Attorney General; and Kevin McAlpin, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): THOMAS

Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Defendant, Mark Elihu Cooper, pled guilty to sexual battery by an authority figure, statutory rape by an authority figure, incest, and rape, and the trial court imposed an effective eighteen-year sentence for those convictions. In this appeal as of right, he contends that the trial court erred by enhancing his sentences above the range minimums “without the support of a single enhancement factor.” He also argues that consecutive sentencing was improper due to the absence of proof of “residual[] physical and mental damage” to the victim presented at the sentencing hearing. Finally, he submits that the trial court used an “inappropriate consideration[,]” specifically, an ex parte communication with the police chief, in rendering its decisions in both of these regards. Following our review, we affirm the trial court’s imposition of an eighteen-year sentence.