Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

August 17, 2012

New plea entered in traffic deaths

Defendant never tasted freedom

CROSSVILLE — Bobby Dwaine England is back in state custody.

The Cumberland County man whose guilty pleas to two vehicular homicide cases in 2008 were thrown out last week revisited the same courtroom and pleaded guilty again. He traded TDOC prison blues for a bright orange county jail jump suit after his guilty pleas were thrown out. Now that he has pleaded guilty to the same traffic deaths, he is back in TDOC prison blues.

Instead of receiving two 24-year sentences to be served consecutively — or one at a time — England will serve a 27-year-sentence at 35 percent.

District Attorney Randy York's staff scrambled to address the issue after Criminal Court Judge David Patterson ruled that England had not been advised by his attorney, Tom Beesley, that he might have to serve consecutive sentences.

York and members of his staff met with family members of the two victims — Mary Rosanna Elmore, 38, and Tony D. Lewis, 41 — and negotiated a new sentencing agreement with England through his attorney Tiffany Lyon.

The fatal crash occurred in March of 2008 on Linary Rd. England was critically injured and later admitted to troopers that he had been drinking prior to the crash and he was the driver of the vehicle involved. A test showed England's blood alcohol .23 percent after the crash.

England pleaded guilty in April 2009 to two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide on advise of Beesley, who believed at the time that the most sentence England would serve was 23 years.

During the sentencing hearing, England's lengthy criminal record including multiple convictions for drunk driving and one robbery conviction, led Patterson to hand down the two 24-year sentences to be served back-to-back at 100 percent.

An additional problem facing state prosecutors is recent Tennessee Court of Appeals rulings that have been unfavorable toward judges making sentences consecutive.

"Our purpose is for him to go right back into where he came from, in incarceration," Deputy District Attorney Gary McKenzie told the court.

England had been held under $250,000 bond since his conviction was thrown out, but he never was able to make bond and remained in the county jail. With the guilty pleas, he returns to the state prison system.

"Though it is not what we had originally, I hope there is some comfort in what has happened today," Patterson told family members. "Sometimes we don't understand how we come to be in the position that we are in, but we are."

During the sentencing hearing, Patterson repeatedly asked England if he understood his rights, his decision and the ramifications of his guilty plea. England said yes to all the questions.

"If you have any questions, now is the time to ask," Patterson said. England responded that he had none.

After the pleas were entered, McKenzie told the court that the families of the victims have been informed on what was going to take place and were in agreement.

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