STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GEORGE P. WATKINS, III - Articles

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Posted by: Landry Butler on Apr 6, 2017

Head Comment: With dissenting opinion by Holloway

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys 1:

J. Colin Morris, Jackson, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, George P. Watkins, III.

Attorneys 2:

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Aaron J. Chaplin, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, George P. Watkins, III, was convicted by a Madison County Circuit Court jury of one count of possession of marijuana with intent to sell (Count 1), one count of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver (Count 2), one count of possession of drug paraphernalia (Count 3), and two counts of possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony (Counts 4 and 5). See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-417(a), -425, -1324(a). The trial court, after merging Count 2 with Count 1 and Count 5 with Count 4, sentenced Watkins to two years at thirty percent for the possession of marijuana with intent to sell conviction, eleven months and twenty- nine days for the possession of drug paraphernalia conviction, and three years at one hundred percent for the firearm conviction. The court then ordered the sentences for the marijuana and drug paraphernalia convictions served concurrently and ordered the sentence for the firearm conviction served consecutively to the other sentences in accordance with Code section 39-17-1324(e), for an effective sentence of five years. On appeal, Watkins argues that (1) the trial court committed plain error when it instructed the jury on the mental states of “knowingly” and “recklessly” for the offenses of possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, and (2) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his firearm convictions. Because the erroneous jury instruction for the firearm offenses constitutes plain error, we reverse and vacate the judgments in Counts 4 and 5 and remand the case for a new trial on these counts. We also remand the case for entry of corrected judgments in Counts 1 and 2.