The Tennessee Supreme Court will not hear an appeal of the criminal case filed against Lee Harold Cromwell, who was convicted of homicide after a fatal crash after fireworks in Oak Ridge in 2015.
Cromwell, who is now 69, had been convicted of reckless vehicular homicide and aggravated assault in Anderson County Criminal Court at the end of a three-day trial in February 2017.
But in July 2018, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals in Knoxville said Cromwell is eligible for a new trial on the aggravated assault charges. The court cited misleading and confusing jury instructions. The aggravated assault convictions, which were reversed by the appeals court, had helped to add seven years to Cromwell’s sentence.
The court upheld Cromwell’s one conviction of reckless vehicular homicide and his five-year sentence on that charge.
In August, Cromwell appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court.
In a one-sentence order in November, the court denied the application to appeal. The denial has not been reported previously.
The appellate case was closed November 15, according to state court records.
So far, no new trial has been ordered in Anderson County, and it hasn’t been clear if one will be. Cromwell already has an effective 30-year prison sentence from his five-year sentence on the vehicular homicide conviction in Anderson County and then, after that, a 25-year sentence on forgery and fraudulent liens convictions in Davidson County. That could be an effective life sentence, although as a standard offender with 30 percent release eligibility, Cromwell might not serve the entire 30-year sentence in prison.
In July, Seventh Judicial District Attorney General Dave Clark said he would evaluate what action to take next.
“However, since Mr. Cromwell will remain in prison for many years yet, there is no rush to have him re-tried on an expedited basis,” Clark said at the time.
Clark was expected to consult with the victims—who would presumably have to testify at any new trial on the eight aggravated assault charges—and evaluate their best interests as well as those of the state.
The crash more than three years ago killed James Robinson, 37, a Knoxville husband and father who died pushing one of his two young daughters to safety, and it injured at least eight others. It occurred as Cromwell backed his red Dodge Ram pickup truck through the crowded parking lot at Midtown Community Center after fireworks on July 4, 2015. It is one of the worst crashes anyone can remember in Oak Ridge.
He was sentenced to an effective 12 years in prison in June 2017. The effective sentence was a combination of consecutive and concurrent sentences for the nine total homicide and assault convictions.
The trial court judge was Senior Judge Paul G. Summers. He was appointed after Anderson County Criminal Court Judge Don Elledge recused himself because of a lien filed against him by Cromwell.
That lien and others filed by Cromwell and others led to a second, separate case that was tried in Nashville, where five East Tennessee men who have been identified as “sovereign citizens” were sentenced to 20-50 years in prison in June after filing fraudulent liens worth hundreds of millions of dollars against public officials, law enforcement officers, and others.
The five defendants—who included Cromwell and Austin Gary Cooper of Clinton—had earlier been convicted of more than 200 counts of filing unlawful liens and forgery of more than $250,000. That was at the end of a six-day trial in Davidson County Criminal Court in Nashville in late April.
It wasn’t immediately clear Tuesday afternoon whether any of those cases involving fraudulent liens have been appealed to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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