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State v. Mullins

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

October 22, 2014

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
CALEB LAWRENCE MULLINS

Assigned on Briefs September 3, 2014

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Madison County No. 13-256 Donald H. Allen, Judge

Gregory D. Gookin, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Caleb Lawrence Mullins.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Senior Counsel; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Brian M. Gilliam, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Alan E. Glenn, and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., JJ., joined.

OPINION

ROBERT W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE

I. Facts

This case arises from the murder of the victim, Karen Mullins. A Madison County grand jury indicted the Defendant for first degree murder, felony murder, theft of property, and tampering with evidence. The Defendant entered a plea of guilt to second degree murder, theft of property, and tampering with evidence. At the guilty plea hearing, the State announced the factual basis underlying the guilty pleas as follows:

[I]n Count 1 the State would show that on or about November the 10thof 2012 while here in Madison County that [the Defendant] did knowingly and unlawfully kill Karen Mullins. In Count 3 the State would show that on that same day, November the 10th of 2012, while here in Madison County that the [D]efendant did knowingly obtain or exercise control over property equal to or over the value of $10, 000 without the effective consent of the owner, Karen Mullins, with the intent to deprive her of that property. In Count 4 on that same day, November the 10th of 2012, while here in Madison County, [the Defendant], knowing an investigation or official proceeding was pending or in progress did alter, destroy or conceal any record, document of thing with intent to impair it's verity, legibility or availability as evidence against him in an investigation or official proceeding.
If Your Honor please, this was a murder that took place on November the 10th although the Jackson Police Department and police officers weren't aware of it until November the 11th. There they received a call requesting that a welfare check be done on Karen Mullins. She was a resident at 21 Copper Ridge Cove here in Jackson, Madison County. When officers made entry into her house they did find her dead on her kitchen floor apparently killed by multiple stab wounds. In the course of the investigation they learned that she did not live there alone at the time; that she was living with her nephew, [the Defendant], and that the relationship between [the Defendant] and the victim was that of nephew and aunt.
Once the investigators learned that [the Defendant] was living at that residence they also noted that he was not there. They also noted that [the victim's] vehicle, a 2011 Toyota Rav 4 valued at approximately $20, 000 was also missing along with some personal items related to [the Defendant] from that house. The investigation later determined that [the Defendant] after killing his aunt took her vehicle. That's the Theft of Property over $10, 000, that $20, 000 vehicle of her's. He took that along with her ATM debit card and used that on the way traveling from Jackson, Tennessee to Louisville, Kentucky. The [D]efendant is originally from Louisville, Kentucky and was a resident of Louisville, Kentucky.
The proof would show that the [D]efendant was living in Louisville, Kentucky up until about two months prior to this murder. There was an arrangement made by his family that he leave Louisville, Kentucky and come to live here in Jackson with his aunt, Karen Mullins, and he ended up living here for about two months. The proof would show that he was unhappy about living here and that he missed – I believe he had some friends as well as a girlfriend and a child in Louisville and had multiple requests stating that he wanted to go back to Louisville. That's where investigators found him was in Louisville.
In Louisville he was apprehended. He was detained there and investigators from the Jackson Police Department, [], actually went and spoke to the [the Defendant].
I will say for the record that Investigator Aubrey Richardson is in the courtroom. He took the statement from the [D]efendant in which the [D]efendant confessed to killing his aunt. He stated that they had gotten into an argument. This involved the [D]efendant using drugs and also doing some things that [the victim] simply didn't approve of in the house. [The Defendant] stated that during the course of that argument that he became very angry with her and while they were in the kitchen he took a knife from a kitchen drawer and proceeded to stab her.
According to the medical examiner, [the victim] was stabbed somewhere between 33 and 38 times and that was her cause of death. Manner of death was homicide and cause of death was multiple stab wounds. Of course, she bled to death. She was not found until about ...

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