First Offense DUI Offender in Rutherford County to Serve Life Sentence After Appeal was Denied

Aug 03, 2023 at 08:31 pm by WGNS News

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TN - An appeal that was field in a first offense DUI conviction in Rutherford County was officially denied on Thursday, August 3, 2023. As a result, the 76-year-old will serve a life sentence after receiving the DUI conviction.


William Timothy Kirk was originally charged with DUI by THP Trooper Chris Langley in 2019. The charge came after Kirk was involved in an auto accident on I-24. Trooper Langley told the courts the suspect presented several signs of impairment. Court documents also showed that Kirk admitted to taking Oxycodone, but did not recall when. According to the Trooper, Kirk failed a field sobriety test and refused blood or breath tests, otherwise known as refusing or violating the implied consent statute. Kirk was charged with DUI, first offense.

Under a plea agreement in the Rutherford County Circuit Courtroom of Judge Barry Tidwell, William Kirk plead guilty to DUI and agreed to an 11-month, 29-day sentence. Accordingly, the trial court was set to determine how the sentence would be imposed, as confirmed by Mr. Kirk's attorney.

As one might imagine, there's more to this story... The Circuit Court found the defendant's prior criminal behavior and the fact that he was on parole at the time of the offense, were both aggravating factors that warranted a consecutive sentence. That prior criminal history included a robbery conviction with a sixty-five-year sentence, two counts of voluntary manslaughter with four-to ten-year sentences, and aggravated kidnapping with a life sentence.

In court, the defendant's counsel argued the DUI offense was not serious and the defendant's prior criminal history was not relevant. Counsel also argued the defendant had already been in custody for 2.5 years, prior to pleading guilty to the DUI offense.

On appeal, Mr. Kirk argued the trial court abused its discretion by imposing consecutive sentences. Despite the argument, the Court of Criminal Appeals in Nashville sided with the Rutherford County Circuit Court's ruling, as confirmed in the filing released on Thursday, August 3, 2023. Consecutive sentences follow one another and add, as opposed to combining sentences into one, meaning that Kirk will not be eligible for parole until he has served the full sentence for aggravated kidnapping and DUI.

The case exemplifies that first-time DUI offense can have serious consequences, especially if the defendant has a prior criminal history. This case also shows that the trial court has the discretion to impose consecutive sentences, even for a first-time DUI offense, if the defendant's prior criminal history or other factors warrant it.

Source: Appeal - No. M2022-01334-CCA-R3-CD


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