Appeal denied for Belfast man serving 11 years

Friday, August 31, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

A Belfast man, who's serving an 11-year sentence, recently had an appeal against his convictions denied by the Court of Criminal Appeals in Nashville.

John Edward Lynch, 49, had two jury trials in the fall of 2010, and was found guilty as charged on all counts.

In the first case, Lynch was charged with driving after having been declared a Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender, felony driving under the influence, and violation of the implied consent law. In the second trial, he was charged with failure to appear.

On appeal, Lynch's appointed attorneys argued there was insufficient evidence to support the DUI conviction and Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler was wrong to impose consecutive sentences. After careful consideration, the appeal court judges affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

Lynch was arrested on the driving offenses after running a stop sign on Belfast Avenue in December 2007, and he was indicted by the grand jury in February 2008.

He had a jury trial set for Aug. 4, 2008, but did not appear. The next month, Marshall County was notified that Lynch was in the Monroe County Jail in Key West, Fla. after being arrested there on DUI and other charges.

Lynch was extradited back to Marshall County on June 28, 2010.

Crigler then set Lynch's bond at $500,000 to prevent him from fleeing the county again.

Jim Grimes of the Board of Probation and Parole was unable to get Lynch's cooperation for his pre-sentence report.

"I don't want to talk to you," Lynch said according to Grimes reports. When Grimes attempted to interview Lynch for the report, Lynch said, "They are all crooks. If you are working for the state then you are a crook."

Grimes did have the benefit of a 2005 report by Beth Flatt that noted Lynch "has worked as a mechanic most of his adult life."

The report lists a series of different mechanic jobs Lynch has held, all with the notation, "lost when he went to jail."

The decision on whether sentences are to be served one after the other (consecutively) or all at the same time (concurrently) rests with the trial judge.

In this case, the trial court found that consecutive sentencing was appropriate based on a finding that "the defendant was an offender whose record of criminal activity is extensive." The trial court specifically found that the effective 11-year sentence in this case was "justly deserved in relationship to the seriousness of these offenses and based on the defendant's prior record." The trial court further found that "less restrictive measures than confinement have frequently and recently been applied unsuccessfully to the defendant."

At the sentencing hearing, Grimes testified the defendant was on state parole for a

conviction for driving after being declared HMVO at the time of the offenses. Furthermore, Lynch's criminal record consists of 37 convictions, which include: 10 DUI convictions, 10 driving on a revoked license convictions, two resisting arrest convictions, three public intoxication convictions, two traffic offenses, three violations of the Motor Vehicle Habitual Offenders Act, two assault convictions, as well as convictions for theft, sale of a controlled substance, evading arrest, aggravated assault, and vandalism.

According to Flatt's report, Lynch was born and raised in Melrose, Mass., and moved to Tennessee when he was 22 years old. He is now confined in the West Tennessee State Penitentiary in Lauderdale County. A parole hearing is scheduled for Lynch in April 2017, according to the Department of Corrections Web site.