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State v. Vallejo

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

November 7, 2014


Assigned on Briefs July 16, 2014

Direct Appeal from the Circuit Court for Williamson County No. II-CR106000 James G. Martin, III, Judge

Benjamin C. Signer (on appeal) and Robert W. Jones and M. James Pulido (at trial), Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Daniel Vallejo, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Tammy Rettig, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Norma McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Thomas T. Woodall and Alan E. Glenn, JJ., joined.



I. Factual Background

In October 2011, the Williamson County Grand Jury indicted the appellant for one count of aggravated burglary, one count of theft of property valued more than $1, 000 but less than $10, 000, and two counts of automobile burglary. The indictment alleged that the crimes occurred between August 17 and 18, 2011.

At trial, Christopher Anderson testified that he and his family lived in a subdivision in Brentwood. Early one morning in August 2011, Mr. Anderson prepared to go to the "Y." When he got outside to his truck, he noticed that the truck's center console was open and that the console's contents were "strewn around." A tool box in the back seat also was open, and bags "had been gone through." However, the only items missing from the truck were an inexpensive pocketknife and some loose change, so Mr. Anderson thought neighborhood children were responsible and went on to the Y. On his way home, he saw a Brentwood police officer and reported the incident to him. The officer dusted the truck for fingerprints and took Mr. Anderson's statement.

Mr. Anderson testified that when he arrived home, he went into his garage and discovered that two hunting bow cases containing bows and accessories; two hunting packs containing a variety of items for hunting such as a global positioning system (GPS), a compass, binoculars, knives, and tools; a set of golf clubs; paintball equipment; and frozen food in the garage freezer also were missing. Mr. Anderson's wife checked her car and discovered that a pack of toilet paper and food were gone. Mr. Anderson said that he reported the stolen items to the police and that their total value was about $5, 200.

Mr. Anderson testified that at the time of the incident, his and his wife's unlocked vehicles had been parked in their driveway. The back door to their garage, which was attached to their home, also was unlocked. At some point, Detective Alan Keller e-mailed photographs of a Red Head backpack, an Estwing hatchet, a Leatherman multi-tool, some knives, and a Case knife and sheath to Mr. Anderson. Mr. Anderson immediately recognized some of the items as his stolen property. In particular, he was "[a]bsolutely certain" the Case knife was his because the "special production" knife had an elk horn handle, and he previously had repaired the stitching on the sheath, making the sheath very distinguishable. When he saw the items in person, he was able to confirm they were his, and Detective Keller returned the items to him.

On cross-examination, Mr. Anderson testified that after he discovered the items were missing from his garage, he telephoned the Brentwood police officer he had talked with earlier, and the officer came to his home. However, the officer did not dust the garage for fingerprints. Mr. Anderson acknowledged that serial numbers were not on any of the stolen items.

Rebecca Anderson, Christopher Anderson's wife, testified that her husband kept a lot of hunting and sporting equipment in their garage. In August 2011, someone entered the garage, took personal items and food, and looked through a box of photographs. Before the theft, Mrs. Anderson had gone to the grocery store, and she had a large pack of toilet paper in the back of her car. The toilet paper also was missing. Mrs. Anderson estimated that the value of the missing food and toilet paper was $75. She said she did not give anyone permission to enter her home or car or take her property.

Mary Catherine Dotson testified that she was a pawn broker for a pawn shop in Dickson and that the business used the computerized Pawn Master System to collect personal information about customers. Dotson identified a "pawn ticket" showing that on August 22, 2011, "Daniel Vallejo" of Valley Drive in Dickson pawned two knives, one of which was a pocketknife, for $15 each. Dotson said she conducted the transaction with the customer, and she identified the appellant in court as the man who pawned the items. On cross-examination, Dotson acknowledged that serial numbers were not on the pawned property.

Darryl Denton testified that he was a mentor manager for Cash America Pawn in Nashville. Denton identified a computerized pawn ticket showing that on August 23, 2011, "Daniel Vallejo" of Valley Drive in Dickson pawned a camouflage Red Head backpack. Denton also identified a purchase receipt showing that Vallejo sold a Leatherman, a black knife with a sheaf, and an Estwing hatchet to Cash America Pawn for $25. Denton did not personally conduct the transactions with the customer. On cross-examination, Denton testified that serial numbers were not on any of the items.

Detective Alan Keller of the Brentwood Police Department testified that he was assigned to investigate the Anderson burglaries. He checked computerized pawn records and located items similar to those missing from the Anderson home. He went to the Pawn Shop in Dickson and Cash America Pawn in west Nashville, photographed the items, and obtained business records for them. The appellant was named on the records as the person who pawned and sold the items. Detective Keller e-mailed photographs of the items to Mr. Anderson and returned the property to him.

Detective Keller testified that in the early morning hours of September 5, 2011, he interviewed the appellant. The appellant told the detective that he was doing "odd jobs, " that his wife worked at Shoney's, and that his family was having "money trouble." Detective Keller asked the appellant about the items recovered from the pawn shops, and the appellant claimed several times that the property belonged to him. The appellant asked Detective Keller about his bond and offered to take the detective to the person responsible for the burglaries if the detective could get him released from jail without a bond.

On cross-examination, Detective Keller acknowledged that the appellant never specifically said he knew who was responsible for the Anderson burglaries. Instead, the appellant referred to the burglaries that occurred "about a couple of weeks ago." On redirect examination, Detective Keller testified that at the time of the appellant's offer, he and the appellant had been talking about the Anderson burglaries, which had occurred eleven or twelve days earlier.

Lieutenant Mark Wainwright of the Williamson County Sheriff's Department (WCSD) testified that he was in charge of operations for the department's detention division and that the telephone system recorded every call going in and out of the jail. An audio-recorded message advised inmates prior to their calls that the calls may be recorded. Lieutenant Wainwright stated that the appellant was "booked" into the jail on September 5, 2011.

Detective Jonathan Couey of the WCSD testified that, pursuant to Detective Keller's request, he searched the jail's telephone records for calls made by the appellant and that the appellant made two calls on September 5, two calls on September 7, three calls on September 9, and one call on September 11, 2011. Detective Couey provided the recorded calls to Detective Keller, and the State played the recordings for the jury.

Investigator Tameka Sanders of the WCSD testified that, upon request, she searched for telephone calls made by the appellant while in jail and that she found one call made on February 21, 2013. The State played the recorded call for the jury. At the conclusion of Investigator Sanders's testimony, the State rested its case.

Dave Howell testified that he was the manager of Tandy Leather Company, a Nashville hobby store that sold leather and leather craft supplies. On April 11, 2011, the appellant came into the store and purchased screw posts, wax thread, an edge slicker, and tracing film. Howell explained that screw posts were used to attach two pieces of leather together and that an edge slicker was used to "slick[] the edges of belts so they're nice and smooth." On cross-examination, Howell ...

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