Two defendants who were convicted in Marshall County recently had their appeals denied by the Court of Criminal Appeals in Nashville.
Kenneth Gregory Allen, 32, of Lewisburg, was found guilty at a jury trial in October 2008. He was charged with several felonies relating to the sale, delivery and possession of crack cocaine.
Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler sentenced Allen to serve 30 years for the conviction for the sale of more than 0.5 grams of cocaine and for the possession with intent to sell. He was also sentenced to 15 years for the two convictions for the sale of less than 0.5 grams of cocaine. The sentences were ordered to run concurrently, meaning with each other, but consecutive, one after another, to another drug conviction for which Allen was on probation at the time of his arrest. This resulted is an aggregate 40-year sentence. Because of state sentencing laws, he won't be eligible for a parole hearing until after he serves 24 years in prison.
Allen's lawyers appealed, arguing that the sentence was improper.
"The defendant was properly considered a career offender for sentencing purposes," the Appeals Court stated. "Therefore the issue to consider is whether the trial court properly ordered his sentence to run consecutively to his previous 10-year sentence."
The law states that a consecutive sentence may be imposed if the defendant committed the offense while on probation, and the Appeals Court noted that to do otherwise would "depreciate the purpose of probation."
Therefore, Allen's appeal was denied, and Crigler's sentence was upheld.
Demetrie Darnell Owens, 28, also of Lewisburg, was found guilty at a jury trial in October 2009. He was convicted of aggravated burglary and theft of property over $1,000 and given an effective 10-year sentence at 35 percent, meaning he'll have to serve more than a third of that sentence before a parole board would consider his request for release from prison.
On appeal, Owens' lawyers argued that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions and that the sentence was excessive.
The Appeal Court refuted both these claims, stating that the prosecution had proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. At the trial, the jury heard that Owens entered the home of a Marshall County couple through a window in May 2008, and took a portable safe from their bedroom closet. Four days later in Nashville, Owens pawned a gold and diamond ring that was positively identified by the victims as their own. He was able to enter the house undetected because the couple's daughter had unlatched a window and told him the code for the alarm system. The young woman testified at Owens' trial and said that she gave him the code and told him where the safe was because she was angry with her parents.
The Appeals Court also upheld the length of the sentence imposed by Crigler, stating, "The trial court relied on this extensive criminal record in enhancing the defendant's sentence to the maximum in the range." Also taken into account was the fact that Owens was on parole from a previous felony theft conviction.