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Posted by: Chandra Williams on Sep 25, 2015

Head Comment: CORRECTION: page 1, "Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., J., not participating."

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Kenneth E. Hill (on appeal), Kingsport, Tennessee, and Perry L. Stout (at trial), Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brent Allen Blye.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Senior Counsel; ?? Barry Staubus, District Attorney General; and William Harper, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): OGLE

A Sullivan County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant, Brent Allen Blye, of possession of 26 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to sell, a Class B felony; simple possession of dihydrocodeinone, a Class A misdemeanor; and simple possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial court sentenced him as a Range II, multiple offender to an effective sentence of twelve years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In this delayed appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by refusing to allow him to question a co-defendant about her criminal history; that the trial court erred by giving, or failing to give, certain jury instructions; and that the trial court erred by allowing a police detective to testify about the value of the cocaine. The State concedes that the trial court erred by instructing the jury that the simple possession offenses could be committed with a mens rea of recklessness but contends that the error was harmless. The State maintains that the trial court committed no other error. Upon review, we conclude that the trial court erred in its jury instruction regarding the necessary mens rea for the lesser- included offense of simple possession of cocaine but that the error was harmless. For the charged offenses of simple possession of dihydrocodeinone and marijuana, we conclude that the trial court also erred in its instructions on the necessary mens rea and that the error was not harmless. Therefore, we must reverse those convictions and remand for a new trial.