A defendant in a Cumberland County drug case had his bond revoked “for right now,” but depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic affects court proceedings in the future, that could change.
Cory Bernard Robinson is no stranger to the court system. He was arrested in July 2019 on a grand jury indictment charging possession of oxymorphone for sale and delivery, possession of marijuana and for driving without a driver’s license.
He has been arrested four times since.
Criminal Court Judge Gary McKenzie revoked Robinson’s bond after a hearing last month but noted a conflict between Robinson’s right to a speedy trial versus the Tennessee Supreme Court’s order banning in-court appearance with the exception of special cases.
That ban makes it impossible for judges to hold jury trials during the pandemic. Issues in the hearing boiled down to protecting the community versus protecting Robinson’s right to have a bond and a speedy trial.
“I am going to hold him without bond for right now,” McKenzie said in announcing his decision. “With Tennessee Supreme Court Order 21, if we can’t get a trial date in March, I am going to have to look at this again.”
McKenzie then continued the case to Jan. 15 for a status check.
Assistant District Attorney Amanda Worley relied on the testimony of two veteran sheriff’s investigators to present her case on why Robinson’s bond should be revoked.
Defense attorney Howard Upchurch countered that his client had not been charged with selling drugs since his July 2019 arrest and that he has appeared in court in the past when ordered to do so.
Both sides agreed that Robinson was arrested on March 4 for possession of methamphetamine and other charges, April 4 on a domestic assault charge, May 19 for violation of bond conditions in Putnam County and Aug. 4 on felony drug charges.
Worley’s first witness was Sheriff’s Investigator Jon Wirey, who testified about his arrest of Robinson in March.
Wirey said he was conducting surveillance on Robinson’s activities when he watched him enter a pickup truck and drive from his Malvern Dr. home to Hwy. 127 S.
Knowing Robinson did not have a valid license to drive, Wirey conducted a traffic stop. Robinson exited the vehicle, leaving open the door to the pickup, and Wirey spotted small empty baggies like those used to keep drugs for sale.
A search of Robinson, however, only netted a small plastic bag of just over .5 grams of meth. Wirey charged Robinson with possession of meth and driving without a license
Under cross examination, Upchurch questioned whether probable cause existed for the arrest and search, based on the empty plastic bags.
Sheriff’s Investigator Jason Elmore testified that he and Lt. Jeff Slayton heard screams coming from a room at the Executive Inn on Aug. 4. Inside the room, the investigators found a distraught Hope Glidden. It appeared water had been poured on her head. In the room with her was Robinson, her long-time boyfriend.
A search of the room yielded a blue handbag with seven and a half oxymorphone pills, an ounce of marijuana, alprozalam pills and Robinson’s wallet. Robinson was arrested on hew drug charges.
Under questioning from Upchurch, Elmore testified that Glidden later claimed ownership of the contents of the blue bag, with the exception of Robinson’s wallet, which she said testified she often carried for him.
Glidden was the only defense witness called. She testified she had lived with Robinson for 11 years and that the two had a son together. She testified Robinson was arrested during a domestic altercation at an apartment on Neecham St., which led to the bond conditions being put in effect.
During her testimony in December, Glidden said she was at fault for the domestic spat turned violent and that Robinson was trying to defend himself when he was arrested
Glidden continued that she thought the order of protection had been dropped after she requested it be dismissed.
Glidden also testified that it was the couple’s custom to talk “rough to each other … folks just take it the wrong way.”
Glidden said she was at the motel “shooting up,” and that Robinson’s only role was to try and get her to stop.
Worley asked Glidden under cross-examination if she suffered a cut to the forehead and if several persons witnessed the confrontation between her and Robinson on Aug. 4. Glidden agreed this was correct.
She also reluctantly admitted to getting threatening text messages while staying at a shelter in Cookeville. She showed the texts to a Cookeville Police officer, who later filed a violation of bond condition charge against Robinson.
Most of her testimony centered around Glidden being responsible for events that occurred between her and Robinson.
At one point during her testimony, Glidden was reminded by the court that perjury was a felony and that she had sworn under oath to testify to the truth.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Worley asked the judge to revoke Robinson’s bond “to protect the community” and for the public’s safety. She added that Robinson was on bond for selling drugs when he “got caught again with drugs.”
Upchurch countered there was no proof Robinson was selling drugs and that Robinson has appeared for appointed court dates, which is the purpose of bond.
He concluded that Robinson had at that point been in jail 131 days and was entitled to a bond.
McKenzie said both sides presented good arguments but he was revoking the bond because Robinson had already been released on bond with certain conditions and had violated those conditions, making him a danger to society
The COVID -19 pandemic will require a second look at the bond revocation on or after the next court date. That date is set for Jan. 15.