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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Nov 21, 2014

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Stephen Bush, District Public Defender and Phyllis Aluko, Assistant District Public Defender, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Dwight Gossett.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Jennifer Nichols and Carrie Shelton, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): WILLIAMS

The defendant, Dwight Gossett, was convicted of two counts of aggravated sexual battery, Class B felonies, and sentenced to two consecutive twelve-year sentences for an effective sentence of twenty-four years. On appeal, he argues that: (1) the trial court erred in admitting the forensic interviews of the victims as substantive evidence pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 24-7-123 (2010) because the statute is unconstitutional; (2) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; (3) the trial court erred in admitting testimony of the defendant’s prior bad act; (4) the trial court committed plain error when it failed to require the State to make an election of offenses and when it failed to instruct the jury as to the election of offenses; (5) the State made a prejudicially improper closing argument; (6) the trial court imposed an excessive sentence inconsistent with the principles of the Sentencing Act; and (7) the cumulative effect of these errors violated the defendant’s due process rights. After thoroughly reviewing the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we conclude that the trial court erroneously admitted evidence of the defendant’s prior bad act and that the prosecutor delivered an improper closing argument. Accordingly, we reverse the judgments of the trial court and remand the case for a new trial.