Jennifer Womac v. State of Tennessee

07/02/2018 IN THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS OF TENNESSEE AT KNOXVILLE February 27, 2018 Session JENNIFER WOMAC v. STATE OF TENNESSEE Appeal from the Circuit Court for Meigs County No. 2009-CR-55A Jeffrey Wicks, Judge No. E2017-00660-CCA-R3-PC The petitioner, Jennifer Womac, appeals the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged her 2012 guilty-pleaded conviction of second degree murder. In this appeal, the petitioner contends that her guilty plea was not knowingly and voluntarily entered, pointing to deficiencies in the plea colloquy, and that she was denied the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of post- conviction relief. Tenn. R. App. P. 3; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed JAMES CURWOOD WITT, JR., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. KELLY THOMAS, JR., and ROBERT H. MONTGOMERY, JR., JJ., joined. Jonathan S. Edwards, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jennifer Womac. Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; James E. Gaylord, Assistant Attorney General; Russell Johnson, District Attorney General; and Lauren Bennett, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee. OPINION In 2009, the Meigs County Grand Jury charged the petitioner with one count of first degree premeditated murder for her role in the death of her father, Grady Nichols, Jr. In February 2010, the State filed notice pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 12.3 that it intended to seek the death penalty, specifically alleging that the petitioner employed co-defendant “James L. Landers to commit the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration.” On February 2, 2012, the petitioner executed a written waiver of her right to trial by jury and a request that the trial court accept her plea of guilty to the lesser included offense of second degree murder. Pursuant to a plea agreement with the State, the petitioner received a Range II sentence of 40 years’ incarceration. During the guilty plea submission hearing, the State provided the following summary of the circumstances of the offense: [I]n Meigs County, during the days leading up to September 19th of 2009, [the petitioner] approached James Landers and solicited and inquired of him, of his willingness to kill Grady Nichols, Jr., [the petitioner’s] father. They did in fact reach an agreement for the killing of Mr. Grady Nichols, Jr., and Mr. Landers did in fact shoot and kill him. Intentionally causing his death on September the 19th of 2009 in Meigs County. On January 28, 2013, the petitioner filed a timely petition for post- conviction relief, which petition alleged that the petitioner was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel and that her conviction was based upon the use of a coerced confession. The post-conviction court appointed counsel on November 7, 2013. Original post-conviction counsel moved to withdraw in December 2014, and the post-conviction court appointed current post-conviction counsel to represent the petitioner on December 19, 2014. On September 8, 2016, the petitioner filed an amended petition for post- conviction relief and a memorandum of law in ...

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