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State v. Woods

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

October 31, 2014


Session: September 9, 2014

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2013-A-620 Monte Watkins, Judge

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Hugh Ammerman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Dawn Deaner, District Public Defender; Jeffrey A. DeVasher, Assistant Public Defender (on appeal); and Jason Sexton, Assistant Public Defender (at hearing), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Dandarius Woods.

Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr. and D. Kelly Thomas, JJ., joined.



Factual and Procedural Background

On March 8, 2013, the Davidson County Grand Jury indicted Defendant on one count of aggravated rape and one count of rape.[1] The Defendant filed a motion to suppress the statement he made to police. A hearing was held on March 11, 2013, where the following proof was adduced:

On April 23, 2012, Detective John Farrell of the Metro Nashville Police Department was assigned to investigate a rape allegation against Defendant. A warrant had been issued for Defendant's arrest, alleging that he raped his cousin two days earlier. Detective Farrell arrested the eighteen-year-old Defendant and placed him in handcuffs. Detective Farrell was not wearing a police uniform, but he identified himself as a police officer and showed Defendant his gun and his badge. Detective Farrell interviewed Defendant in the front seat of his unmarked police car, which was parked in the driveway of Defendant's residence. The interview was audio-recorded. The recording, which also includes discussions with Defendant's family both before and after the interview, is approximately forty-six minutes long.

The recorded statement as well as a transcript were entered into evidence. In the recording, Detective Farrell explained to Defendant and his family members that he would be taking Defendant to the hospital to have his blood drawn for a required "AIDS" test. Defendant would then be taken to booking where, after a few hours, his family could try to make bond. Detective Farrell explained that Defendant would not be released without a bond. Detective Farrell allowed Defendant's mother to provide him with food and drink during the interview, and Detective Farrell moved Defendant's handcuffs to the front so that he could eat.

Detective Farrell read a Miranda rights waiver form to Defendant. Defendant indicated that he understood his rights and signed the form. Detective Farrell testified at the hearing that he did not see any indication that Defendant was intoxicated, overly tired, or mentally ill at the time of the interview. Detective Farrell told Defendant, "what the warrant is for is for rape, " and encouraged him that the best thing to do would be to tell the truth. Detective Farrell said, "I can tell when somebody is not being truthful."

Defendant stated that he and his cousin were in the basement together, that he was asleep on the couch and she was coming and going. He admitted that they had smoked some marijuana earlier. He said that he was awakened when she called her mother. He said when his mother and grandmother came downstairs for her, she started crying, and he did not know why. He stated that he loved his cousin like a sister and that he would not touch her. He denied that they had any kind of disagreement that night and stated, "We were cool."

Detective Farrell told Defendant that his cousin was at the hospital for a "rape kit" and that they were collecting other evidence as well. Detective Farrell explained his theory of what happened: that Defendant's hormones got the better of him, things got out of control, and he made a mistake. Detective Farrell explained that at eighteen, you tend to act before you think. Then he said, "[Y]ou know, if that's the case, I mean, we can get through this. I mean, we can make it [past] this, okay. I mean, that's why I'm here talking to you."

Defendant agreed that it was a fair statement that "things happened before you could think." Detective Farrell asked Defendant if he was hitting on his cousin and things got out of control. Defendant stated that he blacked out and did not remember. When Detective Farrell asked if he remembered his cousin having a screwdriver and telling him to back off, Defendant answered, "I ain't gonna lie. I probably do remember that." He then stated, "I'd be feeling so high cause that's just not me, man." Detective Farrell again told Defendant that it was a mistake and reassured him that he was not a bad person.

Defendant asked, "So if I get charged with this I'm going to have to do some years?" Detective Farrell responded, "Not necessarily, not necessarily. . . .This right here is, is the beginning of . . . a process." When Detective Farrell asked Defendant if he regretted what he did, Defendant responded, "Yes sir."

Detective Farrell reiterated that he wanted Defendant to tell the truth. He said:
[T]he truth at this point is going to go a long way, okay, a long way. Uh, and I think you understand that, okay, I. . . I . . . I . . . deep down I think you know that by telling the truth that's only going to help you, not hurt you, okay. Uh, you know, I mean you've heard the phrase the truth will set you free. I mean it's true and, and let me tell you when I, when I talk, you know, a lot of people every time when people tell me the truth and tell me, yeah, this is what happened. I'm telling you one hundred percent, every one of them says, you know what I feel better for telling the truth. Not only mentally it's the right thing to do but physically it feels like that weight that's on your shoulder right now, it's just gone.

Detective Farrell suggested that Defendant went over to his cousin and started kissing her. Defendant responded, "I guess, that's what they say I did." When Detective Farrell showed some disagreement, Defendant stated, "Yeah, okay. I'm laying on the couch. I went over there and kissed her." Defendant agreed with Detective Farrell that he pulled off her pants and panties. He agreed that he was getting excited. But when Detective Farrell asked if he put his penis in her vagina, Defendant stated, ...

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