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Johnson v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

September 30, 2014


Assigned on Briefs August 20, 2014

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 94873 Mary B. Leibowitz, Judge

J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Petitioner, Willie Douglas Johnson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zetner and John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorneys General; Randall Nichols, District Attorney General; and Leslie Nassios, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams, J., and David A. Patterson, Sp. J., joined.



This appeal stems from the shooting of the victim, Kenneth L. King, on December 19, 2006. In relation to this incident, the Petitioner was indicted on one count of attempted first degree murder, two counts of especially aggravated robbery, and three counts of unlawful possession of a weapon. On direct appeal, this court summarized the underlying facts of the Petitioner's case as follows:

At approximately 10:15 p.m. [on December 19, 2006], the victim returned to his residence with his girlfriend, and as he exited his vehicle, the [Petitioner] approached him with a gun drawn. The victim elaborated, "By the time I got out of my car and turned around, [the Petitioner] was up on me with a pistol in my stomach, walked up on me and was like, 'Empty your pockets, mother f.'" According to the victim, he dropped approximately $140 to the ground, and when the [Petitioner] bent over to retrieve the money, he pushed the [Petitioner] and ran away. At that point, the [Petitioner] fired four shots at the victim, and one shot struck the victim in the lower back. The victim stated that when he looked back, he saw the [Petitioner] drive away in a blue or black Buick LeSabre.
The victim testified that he had known the [Petitioner] since "growing up." He recalled that just before the shooting, he received a telephone call from Katoia Banks, whom he had dated for two to three months earlier in the year, but he did not answer the call. He stated that Ms. Banks had also briefly dated the [Petitioner]. Immediately after the shooting, the victim returned Ms. Banks's call and told her that the [Petitioner] had shot him. He recalled that his girlfriend took the telephone from him and began arguing with Ms. Banks.
The victim was transported to the hospital by ambulance and remained hospitalized for three days following the shooting. He testified that doctors elected to leave the bullet rather than remove it, and he stated that he continued to experience "problems" with his back.
Knoxville Police Department Detective A.J. Loefller interviewed the victim at the hospital. The victim identified the [Petitioner] as the perpetrator from a photographic lineup.
Ms. Banks testified that she had dated the [Petitioner] for nine or ten months, but the relationship ended before the shooting. She stated that the [Petitioner] blamed the victim for the breakup. She recalled that on the day of the shooting, the [Petitioner] telephoned her several times to "apologize about going off on [her] the day before." When Ms. Banks refused to meet with the [Petitioner], he told her he was "going to get that n, " meaning the victim. Ms. Banks testified that she "immediately hung up the phone and called [the victim] to let him know that he needed to be careful because . . . [the Petitioner] was about to do something to him." She was unable to reach the victim at that time, but he "called [her] about five or ten minutes after [she] called him and he said [her] name, and [she] couldn't really understand what he was saying and then his girlfriend got on the phone and said he'd been shot." When Ms. Banks spoke with the [Petitioner] later, he told her "it was [her] fault that he shot" the victim.
During cross-examination, Ms. Banks reiterated that although she was dating neither man at the time of the shooting, the [Petitioner]'s unrequited love for her motivated him to shoot the victim. Ms. Banks denied that it was she who had been rebuffed in her attempts to rekindle a romantic relationship with the [Petitioner]. She admitted that the [Petitioner] never actually told her he shot the victim and conceded that she did not contact police with information regarding the shooting.
Knoxville Police Department Officer Ray Offenbacher, who responded to the shooting, testified that he observed a single gunshot wound to the victim's lower back. He recalled the victim's "screaming" in pain. He stated that the victim told him that "the subject approached him from the rear, made a statement to him, and then he took off running towards the house from the car, and that's when he heard the shots." Officer Offenbacher testified that the victim never ...

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