A Clarksville man convicted for the aggravated statutory rape of a 14-year old Murfreesboro area child in 2013 has won the first step in a recent appeal released on Wednesday by the Court of Criminal Appeals. William G. Barnett, Jr. will now have the chance for a new hearing to determine what actions should be taken next.
In October of 2011, Barnett made plans to meet a 14-year old girl at a Nashville waterpark. The Murfreesboro area child was at the water park with her parents when Barnett met with her. The teen’s parents saw the two talking and immediately told Barnett not to speak to their daughter. The two later texted one another and Barnett reportedly sent the teen pictures of himself.
Soon after the incident at the water park and without the parents’ knowledge, Barnett made plans to meet with the 14-year old before school. The young lady, who suffered from a form of autism, rode the Rutherford County School bus to school, but failed to go in and instead got into Barnett’s truck. Barnett, who was over 35-years of age at the time, reportedly took her to a wooded area in Rutherford County where the reported aggravated statutory rape occurred multiple times.
Barnett was soon investigated by the authorities and in 2012 was indicted. In 2013, the petitioner pled guilty to four counts of aggravated statutory rape and one count of attempted solicitation of sexual exploitation of a minor. Barnett was sentenced to serve three years in the Department of Corrections, followed by three years of probation. Barnett suggests that he may have been sentenced to what amounts to an illegal sentence. If the prisoner, who is currently jailed at the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center, argues successfully that the incarceration is in violation of a constitutional right or is illegal, the court could order the prisoner's release
From the courts:
The petitioner, William G. Barnett, Jr., pled guilty to four counts of aggravated statutory rape, Class D felonies, and one count of attempted solicitation of sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class A misdemeanor. Based upon the imposition of consecutive sentencing, the petitioner was sentenced to serve three years in the Department of Correction, followed by three years of probation. At the guilty plea hearing, the State noted that the petitioner asked to be allowed to reserve a certified question of law to appeal. The State read the petitioner’s question on the record, and the handwritten and signed statement was included in the record. It stated, “I would like to reserve my right to appeal the decision on the motion to dismiss.” The petitioner filed notice of direct appeal.
Thereafter, the petitioner filed a petition for the writ of habeas corpus, which the trial court summarily dismissed based upon the pending direct appeal. The petitioner appealed that dismissal. This court has now consolidated those two issues into a single case. Thus, the issues presently before us are: (1) whether the defendant’s direct appeal of his certified question is properly before this court; and (2) whether the trial court properly dismissed the petition for the writ of habeas corpus.
Upon review, we conclude that the certified question is not properly before this court and dismiss that portion of the appeal. However, with regard to habeas corpus relief, the petitioner has established what may be an illegal sentence. Remand to the trial court is necessary for further factual findings and actions taken in accordance with this opinion.
-JOHN EVERETT WILLIAMS, JUDGE
State of TN V. Willliam G. Barnett Jr.
No. M2013-01176-CCA-R3-CD - Filed April 23, 2014