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Fielder v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

August 22, 2014


Assigned on Briefs June 24, 2014 at Knoxville

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 08-03221 John W. Campbell, Judge

Patrick E. Stegall, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher Fielder.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Greg Gilbert, Assistant District Attorney General; for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Joseph M. Tipton, P.J., and Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., joined.




This case arose from the December 28, 2007 robbery and kidnapping of Jason Seitz (the victim). The Petitioner and his two co-defendants, Korry Hernandez and John Karcher, were indicted on May 13, 2008, for the especially aggravated robbery and especially aggravated kidnapping, both Class A felonies, of the victim. The Petitioner was later tried and convicted of both offenses by a Shelby County jury on March 25, 2009. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to serve twenty years for each conviction, concurrently, for an effective twenty-year sentence. See State v. Christopher Fielder, No. W2009-01663-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 3689134, *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 22, 2011), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Dec. 13, 2011). The Petitioner then appealed to this court, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence and "arguing that (1) the trial court improperly applied enhancement factors; (2) the trial court erroneously failed to apply appropriate mitigating factors; and (3) his sentences are excessive and disproportionate when compared with the sentences received by his co-defendants." Discerning no error, this court affirmed the Petitioner's convictions and sentences; our supreme court declined to review this court's determination. See id.

The following factual background for the Petitioner's convictions was provided in this court's opinion on direct appeal.

The victim, Jason Seitz, testified as follows. On December 28, 2007, Mr. Seitz went to Korry Hernandez's house in Memphis to sell cocaine to John Karcher a/k/a "Droopy." The sale occurred outside the house in Mr. Seitz's car and he left. Approximately two hours later, Mr. Karcher called the victim again and asked him to bring more cocaine. The victim returned in about thirty minutes and honked the horn to have Mr. Karcher come outside for the transaction. A woman came out and told the victim the men were gone but would return soon, and invited the victim to come inside. Since he had known Mr. Karcher for some time, the victim went inside and waited.
Soon, Mr. Karcher, [the Petitioner], and Korry Hernandez arrived. They went into the kitchen. Mr. Hernandez stated he did not like the quality of the drugs previously brought, and wanted a "tax" for allowing Mr. Seitz to use Mr. Hernandez's scales for weighing the cocaine. In order to avoid further confrontation, Mr. Seitz tossed some cocaine down and started to leave the house. [The Petitioner] locked the door and blocked Mr. Seitz's access to the doorway. The victim made a statement to the effect of "what's going on" and was struck by an object in the back of his head. The victim went down on his knees, and all three of the other men "jumped" on him and commenced to repeatedly kick and hit him. As the assault continued to take place, the men threatened the victim, asked him where the rest of his money was, threatened to kill his family, and took all of his money in his pockets plus his car keys, drugs, wallet, identification, and his shoes. Despite the victim's pleas to stop, [the Petitioner] and the other two men continued the assault.
At Mr. Hernandez's instruction, [the Petitioner] brought an electric circular saw, referred to by the witnesses by a brand name, "Skil" saw, to Mr. Hernandez. While Mr. Karcher was on top of the victim on the floor, [the Petitioner] held down the victim's arm. Mr. Hernandez plugged the saw into an electrical outlet and turned it on. Mr. Hernandez then threatened to cut off the victim's hand. When the victim was able to pull his arm away from the saw, Mr. Hernandez threatened to cut the victim's face while holding the turned-on "Skil" saw near the victim's head.
By this time, the victim was bleeding profusely. Someone put a pillowcase over his head to keep the blood from spreading. This obstructed his vision, but the victim added that "[m]y eyeball had already popped out [of] the socket and my whole ocular bone was broke. I couldn't see anyway." With the pillowcase still on his head, the victim was taken outside and put into the back seat of his own vehicle, a 2004 Jaguar. Mr. Karcher restrained the victim in the car. The victim was then driven away. He complained that his ribs were broken and he could not breathe. Mr. Karcher continued to hit the victim on the head and told the victim he was "about to die." Eventually, the car stopped and the victim was thrown out. The victim stated he could hear all three men talking. He was kicked and hit some more after being thrown from his car, and then his car was driven away. The victim went to a house and "banged" on the door and told the woman there to call an ambulance. The victim [lay] on the porch until the ambulance arrived and took him to Methodist Hospital North where he was treated for his injuries.
The victim testified that as a result of the attack upon him by [the Petitioner], Mr. Hernandez, and Mr. Karcher, he received twenty-two staples in his head, he had a dislocated jaw, a broken ocular bone, (his eye actually "came out"), a broken rib, and he passed blood in his urine for approximately one month. Regarding pain, the victim said that for the first week after the incident, he was confined to the couch; "everything" was sore–his head, chest, neck, back, ribs, and he also hurt internally.
Because [the Petitioner] and the co-defendants threatened the victim and his family, and because the victim was scared that he might be prosecuted for selling drugs, he initially lied to police officers about how he was injured. When confronted by officers that his story did not "add up, " the victim then told the truth. He identified [the Petitioner] and the co-defendants from photograph line-ups presented to him, and identified [the Petitioner] at trial.
Heather Bierbrodt, keeper of the patient records for Methodist Hospitals in Memphis, brought a copy of the victim's medical records which was made an exhibit at trial. She testified, concerning injuries noted in the records, that the victim had a contusion of the face, an ...

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