Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs September 9, 2014
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Bedford County No. 17558 Lee Russell, Judge
James Ronald Tucker (at sentencing and on appeal); and William J. Dearing, III, (at trial), Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Roy Anthony Haley.
Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Robert Carter, District Attorney General; and Michael D. Randles and Richard Aron Cawley, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
James Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.
James Curwood Witt, Jr., Judge
The Bedford County Circuit Court grand jury charged the defendant with one count of theft of property valued at $60, 000 or more but less than $250, 000. The trial court conducted a jury trial on July 8, 2013.
At trial, Wallace L. Chambers, Jr., a military veteran, testified that he and his wife, Ava Alito Hale Chambers, were both retired. Mr. Chambers stated that his wife suffered from Alzheimer's disease and was bedridden, which necessitated his hiring a fulltime caregiver, Laketia Grizzle, in January 2012. In April 2012, Ms. Grizzle married the defendant and changed her name to Laketia Haley. Mr. Chambers occasionally hired the defendant to perform odd jobs on his property, which Mr. Chambers classified as "exclusively outside work." Mr. Chambers testified that the defendant "had no reason to be in the house except to come in and eat lunch, maybe."
Mr. Chambers owned an extensive coin collection, weighing approximately 72 pounds and worth between $65, 000 and $70, 000, which he had inherited from his father and had added to over the years. Mr. Chambers had planned to pass the collection on to his grandchildren upon his death. Mr. Chambers stored the collection inside a safe which was hidden in the back of a closet in his living room. When questioned about access to the safe, Mr. Chambers stated that he trusted Ms. Haley and that she had opportunities to access the safe unseen by either of her employers. The defendant also would have had access to the safe when he was inside Mr. Chambers' residence. Mr. Chambers denied that either Ms. Haley or the defendant had permission to remove any of the coins from his home.
On July 22, 2012, Mr. Chambers received a telephone call from Vickie Bly, a person he had never met or heard of prior to receiving the call. Following the call from Ms. Bly, Mr. Chambers checked the safe and discovered that his entire coin collection was missing. Mr. Chambers immediately contacted the sheriff's department and filed a report. According to Mr. Chambers, the sheriff's department interviewed Ms. Haley, and, following that interview, she and the defendant fled. The sheriff's department recovered "less than half" of the coins that were stolen.
Laketia Elaine Haley testified that, while she was working for Mr. and Mrs. Chambers, she and the defendant were both addicted to painkillers, and the defendant did not have steady employment. In March, Ms. Haley discovered the coin collection inside the Chambers's safe, and she began by stealing "10 to 15 rolls" of coins. She and the defendant later stole "the majority" of what remained in the collection. Ms. Haley and the defendant took the coins to local pawn shops and sold them, using the majority of the proceeds to purchase painkillers. When the sheriff's department first contacted Ms. Haley about the stolen coins, Ms. Haley denied any involvement, and when the sheriff's department contacted her to arrange a follow-up interview, Ms. Haley and the defendant fled to Florida. Ms. Haley and the defendant were eventually arrested in Florida and returned to Tennessee. Ms. Haley admitted that she had recently pleaded guilty to theft of property valued at $10, 000 or more but less than $60, 000 and that she was awaiting sentencing.
Both Ron Arnold and Michael Bass testified that, between March 5 and July 20, 2012, the defendant and Ms. Haley patronized their respective pawn shops and sold numerous coins; records of each of those transactions were introduced into evidence by the State. Following the testimony of Mr. Bass, the parties stipulated that the value of the coins at issue was greater than $10, 000 but less than $60, 000.
Detective Scott Jones with the Bedford County Sheriff's Department testified that when he initially interviewed Ms. Haley, she had denied all involvement in the theft of the coins. After Ms. Haley was arrested in Florida and returned to Tennessee, Detective Jones again interviewed her, and on that occasion, she admitted that she had stolen the coins and that she and the defendant had sold the coins to "fund their drug addictions."
With this evidence, the State rested its case. Following the trial court's denial of the defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal and a Momon colloquy, the defendant elected not to testify and chose not to present any proof. Based on this evidence, the jury convicted the ...