Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs at Knoxville September 16, 2014
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Maury County Nos. 21710, 22283 Stella L. Hargrove, Judge
Larry Samuel Patterson, Jr., Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert A. Bass.
Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Brent Cooper, District Attorney General; and Kim Cooper, 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.
ROBERT H. MONTGOMERY, JR., JUDGE
This case relates to an altercation involving the Defendant and the victim, Jeffrey Mealer. At the trial, Maury County Sheriff's Deputy Paul Young testified that on February 5, 2012, at 5:45 p.m., he responded to an assault-with-shots-fired call at the Defendant's house. When Deputy Young arrived at the scene, he saw the Defendant, who was holding a telephone, standing in the driveway about twenty feet from the house. He approached the Defendant, took the telephone, and saw a handgun lying on the hood of the car. The handgun was about four or five feet from the Defendant, and the deputy secured it inside his police cruiser. Deputy Sims arrived at the scene to assist. When the deputies frisked the Defendant for officer safety, they saw other officers and emergency personnel responding to a neighboring house about 100 yards away. The deputies learned the victim was there.
Deputy Young testified that he placed the Defendant in custody for officer safety but did not arrest him. When asked, the Defendant denied being injured. The deputies waited for assistance from additional officers, and the Defendant talked periodically while they waited. The Defendant told the deputies that he saw the victim earlier that day and invited the victim to his house. The Defendant said that he wanted to confront the victim about breaking into his house, that he confronted the victim after he arrived, and that the victim denied involvement in the burglary. The Defendant admitted becoming angry after the victim's denial and said he grabbed a handgun from the top of a cabinet or shelf and struck the victim with it. The Defendant told Deputy Young that the victim ran from the house after being struck and that he chased the victim and fired the handgun at him. The Defendant admitted chasing the victim outside the house, telling the victim to stop running, and threatening to shoot the victim in the leg if he did not stop running. The Defendant also admitted threatening to shoot the victim with a shotgun if the victim ran to the neighboring house. Deputy Young noted that the house to which the victim ran was where the additional officers and emergency personnel responded. He said that the area surrounding the Defendant's house was searched and that a shell casing was found in the roadway. The Defendant's handgun was the only weapon found by the officers.
On cross-examination, Deputy Young testified that he learned later the Defendant and the victim each called 9-1-1. Sergeant Bob and Deputy Parks first responded to the neighboring house but came to the Defendant's house later. Deputy Young did not recall if the handgun's magazine clip was inserted or ejected from the handgun and said Detective Jerry Chandler read the Defendant his Miranda rights. He agreed that the Defendant was cooperative and that the Defendant consented to a search of his house. He did not recall if the Defendant said the victim shoved him but knew the Defendant said he threatened to shoot the victim in the leg if he did not stop running away.
Deputy Young testified that the shell casing found in the roadway was smashed or crushed by a car. Shell casings were also found near the steps of the Defendant's house, but Deputy Young did not search the surrounding ground for a bullet "slug." He did not know if a woman and a young child came to the Defendant's house during the investigation.
Maury County Sheriff's Deputy Will Sims testified that when he responded to the Defendant's house, Deputy Young was already there, and the Defendant was standing between the house and a car. Deputy Sims placed the Defendant in handcuffs after Deputy Young told him about the handgun and detained him until they could determine what occurred. He asked the Defendant if he was injured, and the Defendant denied having injuries.
Deputy Sims provided testimony similar to that of Deputy Young regarding the Defendant's statements at the scene. He noted the Defendant claimed that the victim became offended when the Defendant accused him of breaking into the Defendant's house and that the victim shoved the Defendant. He said the Defendant admitted to hitting the victim in the face with his fist after the victim shoved him and to then grabbing a handgun on a nearby shelf. The victim ran from the Defendant, left the house, and ran to a neighboring house. The Defendant admitted threatening to "get his shotgun" if the victim ran to the neighbor's house. The Defendant said he told the victim that the Defendant did not want the victim's car in his driveway. Deputy Sims agreed nobody but the Defendant was at the Defendant's house.
Deputy Sims testified similarly to Deputy Young regarding the shell casing found in the roadway and added that the casing was found in front of the Defendant's driveway. He recalled additional casings were found but did not recall where.
On cross-examination, Deputy Sims testified that the Defendant was cooperative and was not intoxicated. He assumed that the Defendant hit the victim in the face with his fist after the victim shoved him. He said the Defendant claimed that the argument began in the kitchen, that the victim ran away, and that the Defendant "shot beside" the victim. He agreed that the police recovered a semi-automatic handgun and that a shell casing usually ejected from the side of this type of firearm.
On redirect examination, Deputy Sims testified that his report showed that the Defendant claimed he grabbed the handgun as the victim backed away from the Defendant and that the Defendant fired his handgun as the victim was running away. On recross-examination, he agreed no evidence showed that the Defendant shot at the victim inside the house, although the Defendant said he shot beside the victim.
Maury County Sheriff's Deputy Joey Parks testified that he and Sergeant Bob were the first officers to arrive at the neighboring house where the victim was located. He saw the victim standing in the driveway holding his hand over the right side of his face. The victim's wife, Donna, and the homeowner were also there. The victim was conscious, able to communicate, and upset when he arrived. The victim told him that the Defendant, who he identified as Bubby, "pistol whipped" and shot at him, and he pointed toward the Defendant's house. The victim's face was not bleeding or swollen, but emergency personnel treated the victim and transported him to the hospital.
Deputy Parks testified that he found a shell casing in the roadway between the Defendant's driveway and the neighbor's driveway. Although he did not search the surrounding area or the Defendant's house, he spoke to the victim, who did not indicate whether he had a weapon. He did not find a weapon at the neighboring house.
On cross-examination, Deputy Parks testified that although he asked the victim about the amount of alcohol he had consumed that night, he did not recall the victim's response. The deputy was equipped with a recording device and agreed his conversation with the victim was recorded, although it was not played at the trial. Although he recalled the victim's stating something about the Defendant's shooting a gun and about the victim's car, he did not recall if the victim said the Defendant shot the victim's car or if the Defendant shot in the direction of the victim's car. The victim was concerned, though, that the Defendant shot at his car. He ...