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State v. Talafhah

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

October 21, 2014


Assigned on Briefs at Knoxville September 16, 2014

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Wilson County No. 12-CR-581 David Earl Durham, Judge

Comer L. Donnell, District Public Defender; E. Marie Farley (on appeal), Assistant Public Defender; and William E. Griffith (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ibrahim Talafhah.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Tom P. Thompson, District Attorney General; and Thomas H. Swink, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and Roger A. Page, JJ., joined.



This case relates to a personal dispute that escalated through a series of telephone calls between the Defendant and the victim, Tarek Aly. At the trial, the victim testified that the Defendant first called him in May 2012 and accused him of being the reason the Defendant's wife had kicked the Defendant out of their home. He responded that he had nothing to do with the matter and that the Defendant's problem was with his wife. The Defendant replied, "[Y]ou are the one that I should blame and I should take my revenge from and it's going to be like an open war. That includes, but not limited to, yourself, your properties and even . . . your family as well, and your professional career as well." The victim denied the accusation and tried to calm the Defendant. Both the victim and the Defendant spoke Arabic during their conversation.

The victim testified that he had a physical relationship with the Defendant's wife while the Defendant was in Jordan. The Defendant's wife eventually informed the Defendant of this affair.

The victim identified his telephone record from AT&T. He counted at least five calls, three of which originated from an unknown number, that were placed by the Defendant to him on May 23. The first call lasted seventeen minutes, and the victim explained he stayed on the telephone because he did not understand the reason for the call.

The victim testified that he believed he told the Defendant to leave him alone and to stop calling. Nonetheless, the Defendant continued to call and to hang up approximately ten times during May 2012 from an unknown number. The calls came to the victim's cell phone or to his home telephone.

The victim testified that he eventually became alarmed and annoyed by the calls. Further, he became scared when he heard from a friend living with the Defendant that the Defendant planned to use the Defendant's wife to lure the victim to their home. The Defendant had said he would hide in a bush and shoot the victim in the dark, claim the victim was a "perpetrator, " and hide from the authorities in Europe.

On cross-examination, the victim testified that the first call on May 23 was at 6:20 p.m. He agreed that during this first call, the Defendant confronted him about the affair. He admitted the Defendant did not threaten him until the second call. During the second call, which took place at 8:52 p.m. and lasted for six minutes, the Defendant said, "I'm going to wage a war over you and it's not limited to yourself, your body, but it's going to include everything that you have. I'm going to destroy you because you are the one who is behind what happened to me." The Defendant cursed the victim, calling him a bad person, and the victim became annoyed. The third call at 9:52 p.m. lasted one minute, and the victim could not recall whether any words were spoken.

The victim testified that he could not identify who called him from the unknown number. He also admitted that despite the conflict with the Defendant, he told the Defendant's wife in an email he wanted the couples to sit down and to peacefully "sort out" the May 23 calls. He admitted he did not file a police report against the Defendant until May 27. On redirect examination, he agreed that before May 23, he had never experienced any problems with hang-up calls from unknown numbers.

Ayman Abutalab, the Defendant's previous manager at Domino's, testified that the Defendant stayed in Mr. Abutalab's home for about one month after returning from Jordan because the Defendant's wife and her family did not like him in their home. During this time, the Defendant kept Mr. Abutalab informed of the ...

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