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Garner v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

October 30, 2014


Assigned on Briefs August 5, 2014

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County Nos. 96-10364, 96-10365 W. Otis Higgs, Jr., Judge

Andrea Sipes Lester, Jackson, Tennessee (on appeal); Jason Garner, Pro Se, and James P. DeRossitt, IV (elbow counsel), Memphis, Tennessee (at hearing), for the appellant, Jason Garner.

Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and David Zak, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Roger A. Page, J., joined.




The petitioner was convicted of second degree murder and especially aggravated robbery and sentenced to twenty years on each offense, to be served consecutively. State v. Jason R. Garner, No. W1999-01679-CCA-R3-CD, 2003 WL 1193253, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 14, 2003), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Oct. 6, 2003). This court affirmed the judgments of the trial court on direct appeal, and the Tennessee Supreme Court denied his application for permission to appeal. The underlying facts of the case were recited by this court on direct appeal as follows:

At approximately 11 a.m. on September 12, 1995, the [petitioner] shot and killed the victim, Charles Bledsoe, and took an undetermined amount of money from the victim's person. The proof established that both men had been staying at a residence occupied by the [petitioner]'s girlfriend, Denise Thacker, and her family. Ms. Thacker was pregnant at the time with the [petitioner]'s child. The testimony established that the victim had introduced Ms. Thacker to a man who could get her a job as a topless dancer, had supplied her with marijuana while she was pregnant, and had attempted to involve her in a plot to rob the "white man" she was prostituting herself to. The [petitioner] and Ms. Thacker both testified that the [petitioner] was aware of these facts and was upset with the victim's involvement in these activities.
Both men left the residence separately that morning, with the [petitioner] going to a friend's house for breakfast. Later, the [petitioner] visited a neighbor's house and found a group present on the porch, including the victim and a man named Joe. The victim was attempting to purchase an expensive herringbone necklace from Joe for $100. Joe refused and walked away. The [petitioner] told the victim that he knew Joe and he would try to bargain with him for the necklace.
At that point, the victim handed his .22 caliber pistol to the [petitioner] and instructed him to rob Joe of the necklace. According to the [petitioner], he "snapped" because of all the "stuff this man was doing" with his girlfriend, and he turned and shot the victim in the chest with the gun. The victim then ran around the house and jumped a fence, with the [petitioner] following him and continuing to fire the pistol. At some point, the victim collapsed to the ground from the gunshot. In his statement to the police, the [petitioner] stated that the victim, after falling, asked if the [petitioner] wanted his money and then threw the money from his pockets onto the ground. The [petitioner] shot the victim twice more, picked up the money, and walked away.
The [petitioner] returned to the Thacker residence, where he hid the gun in an upstairs closet. He then paid someone to take him to Whitehaven, where he went to the apartment of Shirley Washington. Present at the apartment were Ms. Washington's three children: Yolanda, Alethia, and Samuel.
According to Yolanda's testimony, the [petitioner] told her that he had pulled a "stang" or robbery and had shot the victim. Yolanda testified that the [petitioner] told her he shot the victim after instructing the victim to "drop off" the money. After taking the victim's money, "[the petitioner] said he had shot [the victim] again." He also gave each of the three children part of the stolen money. They all proceeded to Southland Mall, where they made several purchases. After returning to Ms. Washington's apartment, the [petitioner] went upstairs to lay down, and Yolanda visited Susie Williams' apartment, which was two doors away. Ms. Williams was the victim's aunt and, when Yolanda told her that the [petitioner] was responsible for the shooting, Ms. Williams called 911. Ms. Williams related that, while calling the police, the [petitioner] appeared outside her front door and she heard the [petitioner] state, "Charles Bledsoe better know who he's fing with. I shot him like a rabbit. I saw smoke from his body and it gave me hype and I kept popping that mother fer." The police later arrived at Ms[.] Washington's apartment and instructed the [petitioner] to come down. He surrendered to them without incident, and was placed under arrest. The post-mortem examination established that the victim's cause of death resulted from gunshot wounds to the neck and chest. In addition, the victim sustained a gunshot wound to his left thigh.
While in jail, the [petitioner] was also questioned about a separate murder involving his Gangster Disciples acquaintances. The [petitioner] made a statement regarding his street knowledge of that crime. During this statement, the investigator asked if he had any knowledge of other murders. The [petitioner] responded with information about the current crime. He said that he had heard on the street the victim had been ordered by a higher Gangster Disciple to ...

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