UC man sentenced for man’s death
Posted: Monday, October 4, 2010 9:09 pm
By: Chris Menees, Staff Reporter
By CHRIS MENEES
A Union City man has been sentenced to six years in prison for the October 2009 death of a South Fulton man at a local bar.
Rolie “Lee” Edmaiston Jr., 35, was sentenced this morning in Obion County Circuit Court as a result of his Aug. 27 conviction on charges of criminally negligent homicide and aggravated assault.
The charges stem from the death of 45-year-old David Cranford of South Fulton, who died Oct. 9, 2009, as a result of severe head injuries sustained in an Oct. 5 altercation at Pop A Top Bar on East Cheatham Street in Union City.
Edmaiston was originally indicted on charges of second-degree murder and aggravated assault, but a jury found him guilty of the lesser offense of criminally negligent homicide in the first count of the indictment and aggravated assault as charged in the second count of the indictment.
Two other men charged in the incident — brothers Jeff “Tyler” Woodruff, 27, and Sean Brandon Woodruff, 32, both of South Fulton — pleaded guilty July 30 in Circuit Court to a felony charge of aggravated assault under a plea agreement that included five-year sentences.
Judge Lee Moore of Dyer County presided over Edmaiston’s trial and this morning’s sentencing hearing in place of Circuit Judge Bill Acree, who recused himself due to knowing family members of those involved.
During sentencing, it was explained that the Class E negligent homicide offense would merge into the Class C aggravated assault offense, the greater of the two charges, for one sentence.
In presenting what he believed to be enhancement factors in sentencing, District Attorney General Tommy Thomas said the state alleges Edmaiston was a leader in the commission of the offense in that he inflicted the serious bodily injuries that resulted in the victim’s death. He said by witness accounts, the very act of Edmaiston’s stomping Cranford in the head would qualify as an enhancement factor.
“A father lost a son, a wife lost a husband, a son lost a father,” Thomas said. “This case cries out for the maximum six years’ Tennessee Department of Correction sentence.”
Defense attorney Jeff Smith said he could assure the court Edmaiston wishes the incident had not happened and said, regardless of emotion, sentencing guidelines must be followed. He said he felt the sentence should be on the low end of the required three- to six-year range for a Range I offender.
Smith questioned the enhancement factor that alleged Edmaiston was a leader in the commission of the crime and Moore concurred he was not certain that was a proper enhancement factor. The judge said he could not recall from the evidence that Edmaiston had any more of a lead role and said the other two men involved started the altercation.
Moore said he felt Cranford was particularly “vulnerable” when he was stomped in the head during the altercation and noted he could not fight back because of his physical condition. He also noted Edmaiston was wearing boots and the bar floor where Cranford was lying was concrete.
“He was treated with exceptional cruelty (during the incident),” Moore said.
The judge also noted Edmaiston had shown no remorse during court proceedings and had not made a statement in the pre-sentencing report.
“We have a horrible offense here,” he said as he handed down the maximum six-year sentence.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 10.04.10