Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
Assigned on Briefs July 23, 2014
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Blount County Nos. C-21263, C-21264 Tammy Harrington, Judge
J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal); and Mack Garner, Maryville, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Troy James Keith Reynolds.
Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Tracy L. Alcock, Assistant Attorney General; Michael L. Flynn, District Attorney General; and Matthew Dunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
James Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., and Joe H. Walker, III, Sp. J., joined.
JAMES CURWOOD WITT, JR., JUDGE
On December 3, 2012, the Blount County grand jury charged the defendant with three counts of burglary; one count of theft of property valued at $10, 000 or more but less than $60, 000; one count of theft of property valued at $500 or more but less than $1, 000; one count of theft of property valued at $1, 000 or more but less than $10, 000; and one count of possession of burglary tools. The trial court conducted a jury trial in June 2013.
At trial, Chad Larrance testified that, in August 2012, he was in the process of moving into a residence at 2843 Old Whites Mill Road in Maryville. On August 9, 2012, Mr. Larrance contacted the police to report that someone had broken into the three storage containers located behind the residence. Mr. Larrance explained that the containers were large steel shipping containers and that he had been using them to store "pretty much everything we owned." Mr. Larrance observed that the latches to the storage containers had been cut, and both the padlocks and pieces of the doors were lying on the ground. Mr. Larrance testified that all three storage containers were "completely full" and that it appeared that the intruder had gone "through every single box and everything we had, they had went through the whole thing and pretty much destroyed everything in them."
Shortly after the burglary, Mr. Larrance visited a local flea market and discovered his missing chainsaw. He recognized the chainsaw based on a piece of fabric he kept in the chainsaw case to soak up excess oil along with "a couple of spare chains" that he kept in the case. Mr. Larrance testified that the chainsaw, along with a Kawasaki motorbike or "mini" bike, a component piece of a Kobalt "air die grinder set, " and other items were recovered; those items were worth approximately $3, 225. Numerous other items, valued at around $5, 000, were never recovered. Mr. Larrance listed over 40 items that had been stolen from the storage containers, including a variety of tools and machines and a number of handbags.
Mr. Larrance testified that he did not know the defendant, that he had never seen him prior to August 2012, and that he would not have given consent for the defendant to enter his property and take any items.
On cross-examination, Mr. Larrance explained that two of the storage containers were 40 feet long and eight feet wide, and one of the containers was only 20 feet long and eight feet wide. Mr. Larrance estimated that he had "a couple of hundred" boxes inside the storage containers. Mr. Larrance opined that more than one person had been involved in the burglary and theft because it would have been difficult for one person to remove so many items from the containers without assistance. Mr. Larrance conceded that he had not yet moved into the house on Whites Mill Road and that he did not see the storage containers on a daily basis. Mr. Larrance testified that, on August 9, he observed that the fence around his property had been cut, and he saw tire tracks in the grass where the perpetrator "had spun out" when leaving the property. Mr. Larrance also noticed "a pretty well-beaten path from the area where the truck was parked all the way up to the containers, " and he observed pieces of tools along the path from the storage containers to the fence.
On redirect examination, Mr. Larrance testified that he had researched the measurements of the tire tracks he had observed and determined that the wheel base was consistent with "a smaller size truck like a Ford Ranger, Chevy S-10, Nissan, Toyota size pickup."
Carey Knight, an employee of the Knox County Juvenile Justice Center, testified that she resided at 2832 Old Whites Mill Road and that she lived next door to Michael Stevens and down the road from Mr. Larrance. In August 2012, Ms. Knight was contacted by law enforcement officers who informed her that officers had located a chainsaw that belonged to her and her husband. Following this telephone call, Ms. Knight checked the barn and shed on her property and discovered that the locks on both buildings had been cut. Ms. Knight testified that the intruder had stolen a weed-eater, a blower, a chainsaw, totes containing Christmas items and art supplies, and Ms. Knight's tactical box containing a bullet-proof vest, gun belts, souvenirs from her employment at Mayport Naval Station, and other law enforcement items. Ms. Knight estimated that the value of the stolen items totaled "at least $2, 000, if not more." Ms. Knight testified that neither she nor her husband knew the defendant and that they never gave him consent to enter their property and remove any items.
On cross-examination, Ms. Knight testified that law enforcement officers contacted her about the stolen chainsaw on a Saturday morning in August and that her husband had been in both the barn and shed on the prior Tuesday.
Michael Stevens testified that he resided at 2830 Old Whites Mill Road and that, in August 2012, Ms. Knight contacted him to inform him of the break-in on her property. Mr. Stevens then examined a shed located behind his home and determined that the lock hasp had been cut. Mr. Stevens testified that the intruder had stolen two nailers, three saws, a drill kit, and a can of gasoline. Mr. Stevens recovered everything except the can of gasoline, and he estimated that the total value of the items stolen was "close to $1, 000." Mr. Stevens did not know the defendant and never gave him permission to enter or remove items from his property.
On cross-examination, Mr. Stevens confirmed that Ms. Knight had contacted him about the break-in on a Saturday morning in August. Because Mr. Stevens used the shed on his property to store work tools, he estimated that he had last been inside the shed "a day or two" before that Saturday.
Darrell Morris testified that he knew the defendant, explaining that the defendant had been his next-door neighbor several years before trial. Mr. Morris testified that he was in the business of raising and selling chickens at a local flea market; Mr. Morris sold "odds and ends" at the flea market as well. On August 11, Mr. Morris was operating his booth at the flea market when law enforcement officers arrived and informed him that some of his merchandise might be stolen goods. Mr. Morris explained that he had purchased the items, which primarily consisted of tools and small machines, from the defendant at a location in Blount County. Mr. Morris testified that he had paid "[a]round $425 or $450" for all of the items.
Mr. Morris acknowledged his "lengthy criminal history" and conceded that he was currently on probation for manufacturing methamphetamine. Mr. Morris, however, denied stealing any of the property found at the flea market.
On cross-examination, Mr. Morris stated that he had purchased the items from the defendant "three days or more" before the police informed him that the items might have been stolen. Mr. Morris agreed that if he had suspected that the items he purchased had been stolen, he ...