Session Date: November 6, 2013
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Tenn. R. App. P. 11 Appeal by Permission; Judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals Reversed in Part; Conviction Vacated; and Case Remanded to the Trial Court. Appeal by permission from the Court of Criminal Appeals Criminal Court for Shelby County. No. 05-05757. Chris Craft, Judge.
Valerie T. Corder, (on appeal and at trial), and Arthur Quinn (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Noura Jackson.
Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; J. Ross Dyer, Senior Counsel; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Amy P. Weirich and Stephen P. Jones, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
CORNELIA A. CLARK, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which GARY R. WADE, C.J., and JANICE M. HOLDER, WILLIAM C. KOCH, JR., and SHARON G. LEE, JJ., joined.
CORNELIA A. CLARK, J.
The defendant was charged with the June 2005 first degree premeditated murder of her mother. The jury convicted her of second degree murder after a trial in which the evidence was entirely circumstantial. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed her conviction and sentence, although the judges on the Panel were not unanimous as to the rationale for the decision. We granted the defendant's application for permission to appeal. We hold that the lead prosecutor's remark during final closing argument at trial amounted to a constitutionally impermissible comment upon the defendant's exercise of her state and federal constitutional right to remain silent and not testify. We also hold that the prosecution violated the defendant's constitutional right to due process by failing to turn over until after trial the third statement a key witness gave to law enforcement officers investigating the murder. The State has failed to establish that these constitutional errors were harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, we vacate the defendant's conviction and sentence and remand for a new trial.
Noura Jackson (" Defendant" ) was charged with the June 2005 first degree premeditated murder of her mother, Jennifer Jackson (" victim" ). At Defendant's two-week trial in 2009, the prosecution called forty-five witnesses, and three hundred and seventy-six exhibits were introduced. The prosecution's theory at trial was that Defendant's motives for committing the crime were to gain control of the property belonging to Nazmi Hassanieh, her recently deceased father, which was in her mother's possession, and to obtain the proceeds of the victim's life insurance policy and 401(k) account so that she could continue partying and using illegal drugs
with her friends--a lifestyle which her mother disapproved of and was taking steps to curtail or end. Defendant did not confess to the crime, and no forensic proof implicated her. The prosecution's case consisted entirely of circumstantial evidence.
Defendant maintained her innocence and exercised her constitutional right to remain silent and not testify at trial. At the close of the prosecution's case, the defense rested without calling any witnesses. The defense attorneys vigorously cross-examined prosecution witnesses, seeking to: (1) impeach their credibility; (2) create reasonable doubt about Defendant's guilt; (3) highlight evidence suggesting that someone else, and perhaps more than one person, committed the murder; and (4) attack the effectiveness of the methods the police used to process the crime scene and the thoroughness of the police investigation of other suspects.
At the conclusion of the trial, the sequestered jury convicted Defendant of the lesser-included offense of second degree murder, and the trial judge later sentenced her to twenty years and nine months. What follows is a more detailed summary of the proof presented at trial. Additional facts presented during the hearing on the motion for a new trial, in connection with Defendant's dispositive claims that the prosecution impermissibly commented upon her federal and state constitutional right to remain silent during final closing argument and deprived her of Due Process by failing to disclose a witness statement before trial or after the witness testified, will be provided in the discussion of those issues.
II. Factual and Procedural History
In June 2005, Defendant, eighteen and working on her high school degree, lived alone with the thirty-nine-year-old victim at 5001 Newhaven Drive in Memphis. The victim had divorced Defendant's father, Nazmi Hassanieh, when Defendant was an infant. In January 2004, Mr. Hassanieh was murdered during a robbery of the convenience store he owned. After his death, the victim attained property belonging to Mr. Hassanieh, which consisted primarily of several cars that the victim and Defendant both drove, many of which were parked in the driveway of the victim's home.
The proof at trial showed that around midday on Saturday, June 4, 2005, the victim called Mark Irvin, her on-and-off again boyfriend since 2003, asking if she could attend church with him the next day and take him out for his birthday. Mr. Irvin declined. Mr. Irvin testified that the conversation ended on good terms, even though the victim seemed " disappointed."
At 5:30 p.m. on June 4th, the victim drove to the home of a friend, Jimmy Tual, and the two attended a wedding and reception together in downtown Memphis. Mr. Tual testified that the victim ate and drank
alcohol but was not intoxicated. After the reception, Mr. Tual drove them to a bar, the Cockeyed Camel, where each paid for a drink. The victim's credit card statement, introduced at trial, reflected that her card was used there at 11:06 p.m. and was not used again. Mr. Tual then drove the victim back to her car at his house, and she left his house at 11:30 p.m., stating that she was going home. Mr. Irvin, following up on their conversation of earlier that day, attempted to call the victim on her cell phone around midnight, but hung up before she answered.
The victim's body was discovered in her home shortly before 5:00 a.m. the next morning, Sunday, June 5, 2005. Joe and Rachel Cocke, who lived across the street with Mr. Cocke's mother, Sheila Cocke, were awakened by Defendant banging on their door and screaming, " My mom, my mom[!] Somebody's breaking into my house[!]" Believing a break-in was in progress, Mr. Cocke grabbed a pistol and ran across the street, with Defendant close behind him. When Mr. Cocke paused before entering the house, Defendant passed him and entered the house first, proceeding to the sunroom at the back of the house, where she called 911. Mr. Cocke looked throughout the house, but did not see any intruders. He asked Defendant where her mother was, and Defendant replied, " [S]he's in her room. She's in her room." Mr. Cocke then walked down the hallway where the bedrooms were located, looked into the victim's bedroom, and saw her " laying on the ground," " naked," " with blood all over her." Mr. Cocke then ran back to his house in order to bring back his wife Rachel, who had also called 911 and was speaking to the operator on her home phone when Mr. Cocke returned. At that point, Mrs. Cocke gave the telephone to her mother-in-law to complete the call and went to the victim's home.
Defendant had remained in her home when Mr. Cocke left, and when Mrs. Cocke entered the house, she found Defendant in the sunroom still speaking with 911, " all curled up," and " rocking and wailing" on the floor. Mr. Cocke stood in the front foyer, where he observed bloody shoe prints and drops of blood on the kitchen floor directly adjacent to where he stood and saw that the window on the kitchen door had been broken. Mrs. Cocke, who had taken the phone from Defendant, returned to the victim's bedroom at the direction of the 911 operator to see if the victim could be revived. Mrs. Cocke found the victim's bedroom by following the " bloody footprints in the hallway." Mrs. Cocke saw " a lot of blood" and quickly realized that the victim was dead, explaining that " [t]he look on her face was fixed and it--and dead." Mrs. Cocke did not touch the victim, and on the recording of the 911 call placed from Defendant's home, which was played for the jury and introduced as an exhibit at trial, Mrs. Cocke can be heard calling out, apparently to someone else, " [D]on't touch anything."
Meanwhile, Defendant was crying and " hysterical," repeatedly asking Mr. and Mrs. Cocke, " [I]s she dead, is she dead?" Defendant then said, " What am I going to do[?] I just lost my dad . . . . Why is this happening to me[?]" Mrs. Cocke did not notice any blood on Defendant. The Cockes stayed with Defendant until the police arrived at around 5:15 a.m.
Memphis Police Officer Russell Tankersley and his partner were the first to arrive at the crime scene. When he entered the house, Defendant came to the door, yelling that something was wrong with her mom. " She's in the back," she
said. He and his partner went inside and immediately saw blood on the hallway floor. As he walked down the hall toward the victim's bedroom, Officer Tankersley had to ask a third officer to remove Defendant, who was screaming, " my mom, my mom" as she attempted to run back into the bedroom. When Officer Tankersley looked into the victim's bedroom, he had to use a flashlight to see because it was " very dark" inside. After going only one or two feet into the room, the officers saw blood on the bed, blood " right there in the doorway," and the victim lying on the floor in front of the bed. They then backed out of the room and checked the rest of the house. Officer Tankersley noted glass on the kitchen floor, by the door going to the garage. He exited out that door and checked the garage and all of the outside doors, which were locked. The officers then went back to their squad cars and waited for the Crime Scene unit to arrive. Despite the heat--the temperature was already about ninety to ninety-five degrees when he arrived--Officer Tankersley observed that Defendant was wearing a " blue jean miniskirt" and a " long-sleeved" " fleece" or " sweatshirt."
Memphis Fire Department paramedics arrived next at the scene and followed the police into the house. Paramedic Michelle Hulbert found the victim lying on the floor at the foot of the bed, naked, with visible signs of trauma, including stab wounds to her head, neck, and chest. When Ms. Hulbert entered the room, she had to step over a stool to approach the victim, and " there was a basket that was laying over her head and her face" that she had to " remove . . . to examine her body."  Ms. Hulbert formally declared the victim deceased at 5:18 a.m., but explained that she was not qualified to determine the actual time of death. Ms. Hulbert testified that, although the victim's body was cool to the touch, there was no indication of rigor mortis in her wrists. Ms. Hulbert did not measure the victim's core temperature.
Ms. Hulbert explained that she did a basic visual assessment of Defendant, who was standing on the curb in front of the house, crying. Ms. Hulbert did not see any evidence to suggest that Defendant was under the influence of any drugs or disoriented. Ms. Hulbert recalled that when the police asked Defendant if she had any idea who perpetrated the murder, Defendant responded that " her mother's boyfriend was an asshole[,] but [even] he wouldn't do something like this." During this time Defendant also told the police that she was tired and wanted to sleep.
The Memphis Police Department's Crime Scene Investigation (" CSI" ) unit arrived at the scene around 5:45 a.m. Crime scene tape had not yet been put up, although it was up by 6:30 a.m. From the time Officer David Payment, the head of the CSI team arrived at 5:45 a.m until the time he left at 3:00 p.m., he documented in his crime scene log that twenty-two people entered the house. Officer Payment first walked the perimeter of the residence and noticed what appeared to be blood and glass on the kitchen floor, as well as possible blood on the front porch and foyer, front door, and the floors of the living room, hallway, shared bathroom off the hallway, and the victim's bedroom. A substance
that appeared to be blood had soaked the sheets and pillows on the victim's bed, was spattered on the closet door next to the victim's body, was smeared on the wall by the light switch, and was pooled on the floor under and surrounding the victim. Given the nature of the crime scene and the extent of blood throughout the house, Officer Payment requested that special equipment and three additional officers be dispatched to the scene. The CSI unit and police requested that the Medical Examiner, in particular the blood spatter expert, come out and evaluate the scene, but no one from the Medical Examiner's office ever came. In an attempt to lift and preserve what seemed to be bloody footprints in the hallway, the CSI unit used chemical products they had not previously used and had not previously been trained to use. The CSI team also used a Krime Sight Imager, a " non-invasive body fluid fingerprint detection" device, throughout the victim's house, but no fingerprints with ridge details were detected.
In addition to taking over 200 photographs of the scene and attempting to lift the bloody footprints, the CSI unit documented and collected a great deal of physical evidence from the scene, including a pair of gold sandals found in the foyer by the front door; two drinking glasses located on the kitchen counter; a knife block found in the kitchen with three empty knife slots;  one knife found by the kitchen sink; and another knife found farther along the kitchen counter, beneath a golf club. A third knife was also collected from the scene. In a hallway bathroom that the victim and Defendant shared, the CSI team photographed a hair dryer on the floor near strands of hair and a substance that appeared to be blood. However, the CSI team did not inventory the contents of the trash cans in the hallway bathroom and the victim's bedroom.
In the victim's bedroom the CSI team collected an array of evidence, including a stool next to the victim's body; possible hair from that stool; the victim's bed, including the headboard, footboard, the entire frame, mattress, and all of the pillows and bedding; a wicker basket; and a shoe box containing shoes. After the victim's body was removed, the team also discovered and collected a blue condom wrapper from the floor near the bed, in the northeast corner of the bedroom.
The CSI unit took special care when collecting the bedding, aware that since the victim had been stabbed multiple times " it was quite likely to find blood of the attacker in the bed." Police officers also photographed multiple purses belonging to the victim which were found on the floor of the master bathroom with their contents spilled onto the floor. The victim's house keys were not found, and her wallet was
not found near her purses. The victim's half-brother, Eric Sherwood, later found a wallet belonging to the victim in a plastic bin in the sunroom and turned it over to the police. The wallet contained credit cards that had not expired and also contained an identification card issued to the victim by a former employer located in Atlanta, Georgia. A computer in the sunroom was also taken into evidence and later determined not to have been used by anyone during the time the prosecution believed the murder occurred. Information gathered suggested that the victim often kept a spare key to her home underneath a flower pot on the front porch, but the key was not recovered, and photographs taken of the flowerpot suggested that it had been moved.
The head of the CSI team used a flashlight to look into the windows of the cars in the driveway, but did not look inside or examine the interiors of any vehicles. No photographs or inventories were taken of the interiors of the cars on the morning of the murder. Later that morning, Sergeant Thomas Helldorfer looked into the window of Defendant's car. Because he saw no blood or evidence of any weapon, the vehicle was released to Defendant later in the afternoon of June 5, 2005.
Additional surveys of the house and its environs were performed by police officers throughout the day on June 5, 2005, and on the following day, as officers attempted to process what they considered an " unusual scene." The house contained " so much property" that the police made a video, contrary to standard procedure, before removing any evidence. While some rooms were relatively orderly, others were a " mess," and the victim's family members described her at trial as a " packrat" who was in the midst of trying to reorganize her belongings at the time of the murder.
During his survey of the crime scene mid-morning on June 5, 2005, Sergeant Helldorfer noticed that the surfaces of the shower and sink in the hall bathroom, apparently shared by both women, were wet, although none of the more than 800 photographs of the crime scene documented Sergeant Helldorfer's observations. The CSI unit did not find any visible traces of blood in the bathroom, however, nor did the Krime Sight Imager reveal the presence of blood. Sergeant Helldorfer also noted that the hole in the glass of the kitchen door leading to the garage lined up with an interior butterfly lock not visible from the outside of the door.
Another police officer noted a box of condoms in Defendant's room, as well as condoms in the drawer of a bedside table in the victim's room. However, the condom wrapper found on the floor by the victim's bed was not the same brand as those found in the victim's bedside table.
Lieutenant Mark Miller, the case coordinator, found two cordless phones in Defendant's room and recorded the numbers recently dialed from the home phone number. The last number was for the cell
phone of Andrew Hammack, a friend of Defendant's. He also examined Defendant's cell phone, on which the last number was also Mr. Hammack's. In addition to temporarily retaining her cell phone, police also retained Defendant's purse during the morning of June 5th, retrieving from it a receipt from a nearby gas station. Both Defendant's purse and cell phone were in the house when police conducted their search of the premises.
Early in their investigation of the scene, the police asked Defendant to sign a " Form for Consent to Search" authorizing them to enter and search the house. However, Defendant did not immediately sign the form, instead asking to speak to Genevieve Dix, a friend of the victim, who had arrived at the scene and whom Defendant knew to be an attorney. Ms. Dix arrived at the house before 8:00 a.m. and found Defendant sitting on the grass in front of the house. She first noticed Defendant's outfit, particularly a " long[-]sleeved gray" " sweatshirt thing" that she found " very odd" for a girl who was always " fashionable." Defendant stood with her sweatshirt " pulled down . . . to her knuckles" and kept her arms " straight at her side" when Ms. Dix hugged her. Ms. Dix also noticed that although Defendant was a smoker, her hair was " fresh and sweet smelling" and that she had no makeup on, even though she usually wore heavy eye makeup. Defendant told Ms. Dix that the victim had called her and told her to come home, continuing " but you know me, I didn't, and [Defendant] said [she] came home about four o'clock. And then [Defendant] just stopped and didn't say anything else." 
A few minutes later, while Defendant was speaking with detectives, Ms. Dix was informed that Defendant wanted to speak with her and asked why she might be needed. Ms. Dix explained that she was an attorney but that she " was not [there] in that capacity." The detective then took her to Defendant and showed her the " Form for Consent to Search" that the police wanted Defendant to sign. Rather than sign the form, Defendant told Ms. Dix, " I want to talk to you," and the two women walked fifteen to twenty feet away from police. Ms. Dix testified that she told Defendant several times that she was not a criminal lawyer, did not know anything about the form, and did not represent her. She said that Defendant persisted in asking her about the form regardless, demanding to know whether the police could " get in [her] car?" Ms. Dix informed Defendant that it was likely that " sooner or later, they're going to get into everything," and that they would get a search warrant if Defendant did not cooperate. When Ms. Dix asked Defendant why she was so concerned about the police getting into her car, Defendant replied that she had a " bong pipe" in her Jeep, and wondered if she would " get in trouble." Ms. Dix replied that she did not think that the police would " give a rip" about the pipe, given that Defendant's mother was dead. Ms. Dix described Defendant as an " extremely bright individual" who could comprehend Ms. Dix's advice. Defendant decided to sign the form after speaking with Ms. Dix for a few minutes. The form itself, introduced into evidence at trial, reflects that Defendant signed it at 7:51 a.m. Ms. Dix signed it as well.
After Defendant signed the form, Sergeant Connie Justice drove Defendant to the Memphis police station at 201 Poplar Avenue so that she could give a formal statement. Since Defendant had found the body, this was normal police procedure, and Defendant was neither Mirandized nor handcuffed. Rather, she sat in the front of the police cruiser, quickly fell asleep, and remained asleep for the duration of the fourteen-minute drive. Sergeant Justice woke Defendant when they arrived, at which point Defendant sat with Sergeant Justice and gave a statement.
Defendant told Sergeant Justice that she had gone to the Italian Festival the previous evening, then to a party at Carter Kobeck's house, and then to the house of her boyfriend, Perry Brasfield. She said that she had last spoken to her mother at 12:10 a.m. that morning. After speaking to her mother, Defendant said she had remained at Mr. Brasfield's house for another thirty minutes before a friend drove her back to her own car. Defendant said she then stopped and bought cigarettes and went to Taco Bell, but realized she did not have her wallet. She called Mr. Brasfield and asked him to look for her wallet. Next, she went back to Mr. Kobeck's house and found her wallet there. After leaving Mr. Kobeck's house, Defendant said she bought gas and told Sergeant Justice that she had the receipt for the purchase. Defendant stated that she next drove to Eric Whittaker's house in Cordova, but decided to head home after speaking to him briefly. She then spoke to Mr. Hammack, who was supposed to come over to her house to see her new kitten, but she did not call him after she got home and discovered her mother's body. Defendant said that she arrived home between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m.
Defendant stated that when she arrived at home she finished smoking a cigarette, threw the butt in the flower bed, and used her key to enter the front door, which was locked. When she first came into the house, Defendant turned on the light in the hallway, although she noticed that the light in her mother's bathroom was on and her bedroom door was open, both of which Defendant characterized as " weird," explaining that the victim usually slept with her door closed and the light off. She first went into the kitchen to get her cat but stepped on glass and quickly realized that it was all over the floor. She then walked into her mother's room, " took the basket off of her head," tried to talk to her and attempted to find a pulse, but found none. Defendant later stated that she had touched her mother's arms and face when she found her. Finding her mother unresponsive, she " kept shaking her" but soon ran to the neighbor's house screaming, and Mr. Cocke followed her back to her house. Defendant said that her mother kept her purse to the left side of her bed, had a nice cell phone, and usually kept cash in her wallet. Defendant said that her mother usually slept in a big t-shirt, but sometimes slept in her underwear.
In response to Sergeant Justice's questions, Defendant further stated that she and her mother recently had a disagreement over a party Defendant's boyfriend, Mr. Brasfield, had thrown at their house, and Defendant said that the victim " was disappointed with [Mr. Brasfield] cause [sic] she trusted him." Defendant described her disagreements with her mother as " the same kind that teenagers and mothers [have]." She said that the victim
had an " on and off again boyfriend," Mr. Irvin, but that they were broken up and the victim had gone to a wedding with Mr. Tual the previous evening. The victim's arguments with Mr. Irvin, Defendant said, were only " heated words" and not physical. Defendant also mentioned that her mother had recently made an enemy at work over an account.
When asked about a cut on her left hand between her thumb and forefinger, Defendant said she had cut her hand at the Italian Festival on Friday night when she tripped and fell on a broken beer bottle. She said that her mother had purchased " New Skin" adhesive for her to treat the cut. Defendant said the cut had not required stitches, but Defendant neither offered to show Sergeant Justice the cut, nor did Sergeant Justice specifically ask to see it. According to Sergeant Justice, Defendant did not appear to be intoxicated or under the influence of any drugs at the time of the interview.
Defendant signed her statement at 9:53 a.m. on June 5, 2005. After giving her statement, Defendant told Sergeant Justice that some of the receipts from her activities from midnight until the time she discovered her mother's body might be in her vehicle. At 10:50 a.m., at the request of detectives from the crime scene, Sergeant Justice had Defendant sign forms consenting to a search of the cars in the driveway and permitting the police to obtain DNA samples from Defendant, including " hair samples, blood samples, and/or saliva samples." At 11:05 a.m. Sergeant Justice accompanied Defendant to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, a few floors away in the same building, so that a full set of her fingerprints could be taken. At 11:25 a.m. Sergeant Justice photographed Defendant's hands, shoes, and clothes. The photographs showing Defendant's hands depict an apparently intact manicure and a small piece of white tape, with no absorption pad, covering the cut on Defendant's left hand. Sergeant Justice confirmed that such photographs are routinely taken during the investigation of a murder by stabbing because if the person perpetrating the crime hits a bone while stabbing the victim, the perpetrator's hand may continue to slide down the blade of the knife, thus cutting the attacker's palm. Overall, Defendant remained at the Memphis police station for approximately four hours on the morning after the victim's body was discovered.
When Sergeant Justice returned Defendant to the crime scene at 12:15 p.m., the police located her new kitten in the garage and helped her retrieve her dog from the back yard. Soon afterward the police returned her purse, keys, and cell phone, telling her that she could take her vehicle as well if she wished. At this point Sergeant Justice took Defendant's gray New Balance sneakers, as the shoes had blood on them. Defendant had been wearing the sneakers all morning, including during her trip to the police station. Defendant was given other shoes from inside the house to wear.
By the time Defendant returned to the crime scene, several of her friends, including Mr. Brasfield, had arrived. When Mr. Brasfield asked Defendant about the bandage on her hand, Defendant told him she " was in her house chasing her kitten through the kitchen and cut it on some glass, some broken glass." Defendant spoke with Ms. Dix again as well. Ms. Dix questioned Defendant about Mr. Brasfield's statement that Defendant had called him from her house around 12:30 or 1:00 a.m. Defendant denied that she had been home earlier, insisting that while the victim had called and told her to come home, when she drove by the house and saw the lights were off, she assumed the victim
was asleep and drove to a boy's house where she smoked pot with him, not returning home until after 4:00 a.m.
Shortly after Defendant returned to the scene, a friend of the victim, Patty Masterson, approached Defendant and hugged her. Ms. Masterson recalled Defendant asking her if " all of this is going to be on the news[.]" When Ms. Masterson, who noticed that Defendant was wearing a long-sleeve white shirt underneath a long-sleeve grey sweatshirt, asked Defendant if she was hot, Defendant removed the long-sleeve grey sweatshirt and threw it to the ground. Ms. Masterson picked it up and turned it over to the police.
By this time, members of the media and various onlookers, as well as family friends, had begun to gather outside the house. When Regina Hunt, a friend of the family, approached her, Defendant said that she " felt uncomfortable" around all of the victim's friends in the area and wanted to leave. Before Defendant left with Ms. Hunt, however, a friend of Defendant's testified that she saw Defendant sitting in Ms. Hunt's car with a plastic bag full of Lortabs in her hands. Ms. Hunt drove Defendant to a nearby restaurant that Ms. Hunt owned, where they went into her office to eat after Defendant saw Mr. Brasfield and two other of her friends in the dining area of the restaurant. After eating, Defendant and Ms. Hunt returned to the crime scene, where Defendant asked the police if she could retrieve her bag from her Jeep. The police allowed her to do so.
Around this time Defendant's friend Caroline Giovannetti arrived, and Defendant asked if Ms. Giovannetti would care for her dog and if she could shower at Ms. Giovannetti's house. When she agreed, Ms. Hunt drove Defendant to Ms. Giovannetti's house. Defendant went to the back of the house to shower and returned a short while later, her hair wet but smelling of marijuana. Ms. Giovannetti packed Defendant a bag of clothes to wear, since Defendant's own clothes were at the crime scene and inaccessible. When Ms. Giovannetti asked about the previous night, Defendant said that after returning to her car from a party with friends, she had driven past her house around midnight, seen the lights all out, assumed her mother was asleep, and proceeded to drive to Mr. Whittaker's house, coming home to find her mother between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m. Defendant " didn't answer" when asked about the cut on her hand. Ms. Hunt and Defendant then left for Ms. Hunt's house, followed by Defendant's friends in two other cars. On the way, Defendant asked Ms. Hunt to drive by Memorial Park, the cemetery where Anna Menkel, Defendant's good friend who had died six months earlier, was buried. There, Ms. Hunt witnessed Defendant " sobbing" at her friend's grave.
Ms. Hunt then drove Defendant to her own home, where Ms. Hunt ordered pizza and many of Defendant's friends gathered to comfort her. One friend described Defendant as upset but " not overly upset." When they first arrived at her house, Ms. Hunt asked Defendant about the cut on her hand, and Defendant replied that " she had cut it on a beer bottle at Italian Fest" on Saturday night. Defendant reiterated a version of this explanation later in Ms. Giovannetti's presence, commenting, " [O]h Caroline, you saw me, you saw how drunk I was." Although Ms. Giovannetti testified
that she had seen Defendant at the Italian Festival on that Friday evening, June 3, 2005--rather than Saturday evening--she did not recall Defendant appearing to be drunk or noticing that Defendant had hurt her hand.
While talking with Ms. Hunt and other friends, Defendant declared that she " wanted to have a party." Ms. Hunt told her that this would not be a good idea. Defendant then said that she wanted to go to the movies. Ms. Hunt responded that Defendant was not going anywhere and needed rest. Ms. Hunt allowed Defendant's friends to remain at her house until around 11:00 p.m. that evening, and Defendant stayed with Ms. Hunt that night. During this time, Ms. Hunt looked through Defendant's purse and discovered " a prescription bottle with someone else's name on it," and twelve to twenty pills " with little speckles" and the name " Concerta" on them. When Ms. Hunt confronted Defendant about the pills, Defendant at first claimed that the pills had been prescribed for her by her doctor but ultimately confessed that they were drugs she had obtained from someone at Ridgeway High School.
On the morning of Monday, June 6, 2005, Ms. Hunt asked Defendant where she had been on the night of the murder, but Defendant offered conflicting stories. First, Defendant claimed that she had gone home but then had sneaked back out again. Defendant later stated that she had driven by her house but decided not to go home. " She got very defensive when I corrected her that her story was different," Ms. Hunt recalled.
On this same morning, Sergeant Justice called Ms. Hunt's home and spoke with Defendant to clarify the location of the Taco Bell where Defendant said she had stopped on her way home the morning of June 5th. During this conversation, Defendant admitted to Sergeant Justice that she had not stopped at Taco Bell, but instead " rode around and smoked a bowl of weed" and had been too ashamed to say so before. After speaking with Sergeant Justice, Defendant asked Ms. Hunt if she were a suspect in the murder. When Ms. Hunt replied that, given the early stage of the investigation " everyone was a suspect," Defendant declared that she " touche[d] her mother, she hug[ged] her mother, [she was] all over her mother." When Ms. Hunt reassured her that the police would find the killer, Defendant replied in a tone that Ms. Hunt described as " real sharp" and " very cold," " [W]ell, they didn't find out who killed my dad."
Later that same morning, Defendant declared that she wanted to go tanning and shopping. When Ms. Hunt refused to accompany her, Defendant called another family friend, Ms. Kathy Menkel, the mother of Defendant's deceased friend. Ms. Menkel picked up Defendant from Ms. Hunt's house and took her out. Defendant spent Monday night at Kathy Menkel's house.
On Tuesday morning, June 7, 2005, Defendant called Sergeant Justice, asking if there were any developments in the investigation. Defendant never called Sergeant Justice again. That same day, the police obtained DNA samples from Defendant's friend, Andrew Hammack. It was also on Tuesday that Ms. Hunt drove Defendant to the Memphis hotel where Defendant's aunts, her mother's sisters Cindy Eidson and Grace France, were staying. As
they drove to the hotel, Ms. Hunt again asked Defendant about the cut on her hand. This time, Defendant said that " her cat was stuck in the garage and she cut [her hand] trying to get the cat out of the garage." When Ms. Hunt pointed out that this was a different explanation than Defendant had given before, Defendant " got defensive, and then she started saying that she wanted to kill herself." Defendant was crying and saying, " I just want to die. I want to kill myself." At this point Ms. Hunt attempted to console her and brought her to her aunts.
Ms. France suggested that she and Defendant go see the police and get an update on the investigation, but Defendant refused to go. Ms. Eidson testified that she asked Defendant about the night of the murder, and Defendant told her that " [Mr. Brasfield] had called [her] and [she] was with this fellow Chris, and [Mr. Brasfield] hates Chris[,] and so [she] didn't want to tell him [she] was with him, and so, [she] said [she] was at home, smoking a cigarette." Then Defendant said that the night was too painful to talk about. Ms. France took Defendant shopping for clothes during this period. She noticed that Defendant was wearing a " polar fleece type jacket," and that during the shopping trip, Defendant chose all long-sleeved shirts and a long-sleeved nightgown, even though it was extremely hot in Memphis at the time. Defendant also told Ms. France that the victim had bought her ...