Assigned on Briefs July 9, 2014
Direct Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 11-04842 Chris Craft, Judge
Andrew R.E. Plunk, Memphis Tennessee, for the appellant, Steven Davis.
Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Chris Lareau, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
John Everett Williams, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Jerry L. Smith and Camille R. McMullen, JJ., joined.
JOHN EVERETT WILLIAMS, JUDGE
The charges against the defendant arose from his involvement in the burglary of a home shared by two brothers, Mr. Franklin Cobbins and Mr. Franklin Porter, and the subsequent robbery of the two. Each of the two victims identified Mr. Randy Young, the co-defendant, as being present at the home during the robbery. According to Mr. Cobbins, co-defendant Young came to his home in July of 2011 to purchase drugs. However, shortly after his arrival, Mr. Young quickly left the home but soon returned with two armed men who "took control over the house." The defendant, armed with "a little assault rifle, " shot Mr. Cobbins in the stomach when he attempted to "lunge" at the defendant. Mr. Porter was woken when he heard a loud commotion at the door of the home. He saw two men, one of which was armed, at the bedroom door before he was ordered into the living room. Mr. Cobbins' wallet containing $200 was taken, as was Mr. Porter's wallet and cell phone. After the men left the home, police arrived, and an investigation ensued.
Sergeant Sean Hicks with the Memphis Police Department was assigned to coordinate the investigation. Mr. Young was detained fairly quickly after the robbery and placed in an interview room. While interviewing Mr. Porter, Sergeant Hicks was notified that an anonymous caller on the "Crime Stoppers" hotline had information about the robbery. The caller, Ronnie Redmond, who was the defendant's cousin, informed Sergeant Hicks that the defendant could be a possible suspect in the robbery.
Mr. Redmond stated that the defendant had called him earlier on the day of the robbery and told him that he "and his partners were going to hit a lick, which basically was going to rob somebody." Although he did not provide many details of the robbery, the defendant did tell Mr. Redmond that he expected to get some drugs. The following day, the defendant told Mr. Redmond that he had gone to south Memphis, robbed a man, and got some drugs and money. In fact, the defendant actually showed Mr. Redmond a wallet which contained a picture of Mr. Porter.
After encouragement from his girlfriend, Mr. Redmond called "Crime Stoppers" and informed the police of what the defendant had told him. Mr. Redmond stated that he gave great detail as to what occurred inside the residence and what items were taken. There was some confusion initially whether Mr. Redmond reported the call which took place prior to the robbery, but it was testified to at trial.
Based upon the information provided by Mr. Redmond, a photo identification lineup was prepared, and Mr. Porter identified the defendant as one of the men who robbed him and shot his brother. Based upon that identification, the defendant was brought into the police station. He was initially placed in a separate interview from Mr. Young. Both men waived their Miranda rights and agreed to speak with investigators. Both denied any involvement in the robbery.
At some point during the interview, the defendant asked to speak to Mr. Young outside the presence of investigators. Although it was outside normal investigative practice, Sergeant Hicks agreed to the request. After a twenty-five minute, closed-door meeting with Mr. Young, the defendant tendered a partial confession. When Sergeant Hicks re-entered the interview room, the defendant said that Mr. Young "didn't have anything to do with it" and that he (the defendant) had the gun and went in the house. However, the defendant refused to sign a written statement.
Both the defendant and Mr. Young were indicted by a grand jury for especially aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery, and aggravated burglary. Prior to trial, the defendant filed three motions to suppress his statements to police alleging that "the statements [were] a direct result of an illegal ...