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Ghormley v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

September 12, 2014


Assigned on Briefs November 18, 2014

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Blount County No. C-17294 Don R. Ash, Senior Judge

Anthony Todd Ghormley, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; Tracy L. Alcock, Assistant Attorney General; Charme Allen, District Attorney General; and Ellen L. Berez and Clinton E. Frazier, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which John Everett Williams and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.



I. Facts

This case arises from the Petitioner's attack on three women on September 17, 2007. This Court summarized the background of this case as follows:

The proof at trial showed that on September 17, 2007, [the Petitioner] and his wife, Karen Van Dyke, had an argument while they were at the home of Gaynell Head, Van Dyke's grandmother. [The Petitioner] returned to his residence, and Van Dyke remained at Head's home, spending the night with Head and Candy Bussey, Van Dyke's cousin. Early in the morning of the next day, while the women were asleep, [the Petitioner] returned to the home. He forced his way through the locked front door and attacked the three women. He struck them each repeatedly with a baseball bat and cut them with a knife. Van Dyke escaped by jumping out a window, and she called police from a neighbor's house. Bussey fled out the front door, which [the Petitioner] had blocked with a chair to prevent entry into the house. When police arrived, [the Petitioner] took Head hostage and locked himself in the bathroom. After a standoff that lasted several hours, [the Petitioner] surrendered and was arrested.

Ghormley, 2012 WL 171940, at *1. The jury convicted the Petitioner, as charged, of two counts of attempted first degree murder, one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, two counts of especially aggravated burglary, and three counts of aggravated assault. Id.

On appeal, the Petitioner raised issues related to the question of his competency, arguing that the trial court had erred when it refused to hold a competency hearing before trial. This Court held:

Upon our review of the record, we conclude that the evidence "raise[d] a sufficient doubt as to [the] accused's competence to stand trial." The trial court was correct to consider its observations of [the Petitioner's] behavior. However, the court failed to sufficiently consider other relevant factors which should have called [the Petitioner's] competency into question, such as the medical opinion concerning competency and evidence of irrational behavior. Primarily, the medical opinion that [the Petitioner] required psychiatric medication to maintain his competency, combined with evidence that [the Petitioner] had not received that medication for a prolonged period, raise sufficient doubt of his competency. Furthermore, the record includes hundreds of pages of handwritten motions filed by [the Petitioner], both while he was represented by counsel and while he represented himself. In these filings, [the Petitioner] expressed, usually in language riddled with obscenities, belligerence toward almost everyone involved in the court system, including judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and his defense attorneys. Additionally, he often complained to the trial court of conspiracies against him by the legal system and jail employees. Although the trial court considered these filings evidence of [the Petitioner's] competency, it is unclear whether they represent irrational conduct indicative of mental illness or rather simply an offensive and combative nature inherent to [the Petitioner]. In light of the medical opinion on competency, the evidence that [the Petitioner] had not received medication, and [the Petitioner's] many court filings, a reasonable judge should have experienced doubt as to [the Petitioner's] competency to stand trial. The trial court therefore erred in failing to hold a competency hearing, and [the Petitioner] was deprived of the due process of law as a result. Consequently, we remand to the trial court for a hearing to determine whether [the Petitioner] was competent to stand trial in September 2009.

Id. at *4.

A competency hearing was held. The only reference to this hearing in this record is included in the Petitioner's petition for writ of error coram nobis, and it states that "Judge Jon K. Blackwood and DA Berez conspired to conceal or censor the following hearing transcripts in order to control the outcome of the retrospective competency hearing in the State's favor." We, however, note that the Petitioner appealed the trial court's finding that he was competent to stand trial in a separate case. See State v. Anthony Todd Ghormley, ...

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