STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DEVONTE BONDS, THOMAS BISHOP, JASON SULLIVAN, AND BRIANNA ROBINSON - Articles

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Posted by: Chandra Williams on Apr 7, 2016

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys 1:

John M. Boucher, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Devonte Bonds.

Attorneys 2:

Wesley D. Stone (on appeal and at trial), Timothy Jones (on appeal), and Joseph A. Fanduzz (pre-trial), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Thomas Bishop. Leslie M. Jeffress, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jason Lamont Sullivan. J. Liddell Kirk (on appeal) and Susan E. Shipley (at trial), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brianna Michelle Robinson. Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Ta’Kisha Fitzgerald and Philip Morton, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): EASTER

Defendants Devonte Bonds, Thomas Bishop, Jason Sullivan, and Brianna Robinson were tried jointly and convicted of attempted second degree murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The jury found that the underlying offenses committed by Defendants Bonds, Bishop, and Sullivan constituted criminal gang offenses, and they received enhanced punishment under Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-121. All of the defendants raise multiple procedural and evidentiary issues with regard to the guilt phase of the trial on the underlying offenses. Defendants Bonds, Bishop, and Sullivan also raise several issues regarding their criminal gang enhancements. Defendants Bishop and Sullivan each raise an issue with regard to their sentencing. After an exhaustive review of the record, we ascertain no error in the guilt phase of the trial on the underlying offenses. Accordingly, the trial court’s judgment as to Defendant Robinson is affirmed. However, because the subsection of the criminal gang enhancement statute employed by the State violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and is facially unconstitutional, we reverse the judgments of the trial court as to Defendants Bonds, Bishop, and Sullivan, vacate the criminal gang enhancements, and remand for modification of the judgments and a new sentencing hearing on the underlying offenses of attempted second degree murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.

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