Session May 6, 2014
Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 11-01531 Carolyn Wade Blackett, Judge.
Paul J. Springer, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Antonio Jackson; Larry E. Fitzgerald, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joletta Summers.
Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Greg Gilbert, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Camille R. McMullen, J., joined. Joseph M. Tipton, J., Not Participating.
ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE
The defendants were indicted for second degree murder, attempted second degree murder, and employing a firearm during a dangerous felony as the result of their shooting two young men, Marion Withers and Nico White, on August 5, 2009, in Memphis, following a neighborhood altercation involving their son, Antonio "Little Tony" Jackson. The defendants were convicted of the lesser-included offenses of voluntary manslaughter and attempted voluntary manslaughter. Defendant Summers was also convicted on the firearm charge, but Defendant Jackson was acquitted of that charge.
Fifteen-year-old Kardell Itson testified that he was twelve years old at the time of the shooting and that he was playing basketball in his neighborhood with his sister, Mary, a friend named Dedrick, Little Tony, and the victims. Dedrick confronted Little Tony about whether he had stolen a BB gun from one of Itson's friends. Itson overheard the verbal argument between Little Tony and Dedrick but had gone inside his house before the physical fight occurred. When Itson came back outside, "everybody" told him that Little Tony and Dedrick had "just got to fighting" and that Little Tony had run down the street to the home of his aunt, Paula Killebrew. Itson, Withers, White, and Mary then walked down the street to Withers' house. The defendants and another woman suddenly pulled up in their vehicle, and all three of them jumped out of the car "yelling loud like they was mad, " wanting to know who had "jumped [their] son." Itson, Withers, and White tried to tell the defendants that the person who had fought with Little Tony had left.
Itson said that Defendant Jackson then approached White, who had an injured knee, and swung at him. White dodged the blow and hit Defendant Jackson. Withers came to White's aid and hit Defendant Jackson in the back of the head, which ended the fight. Itson saw Defendant Summers go to the passenger side of the vehicle and return to Defendant Jackson's side. Itson could not see if she removed anything from the vehicle. Defendant Jackson then pulled out a silver revolver from the right pocket of his shorts and began firing at White, while Withers was standing behind White. Itson heard two gunshots and saw White fall in the middle of the street. Itson then started running and saw the defendants run back to their vehicle and flee the scene. On cross-examination, Itson acknowledged that Withers was a member of the Bloods gang and identified a photograph of Withers holding a gun.
Nineteen-year-old Mary Itson testified that she saw Little Tony and Dedrick fighting. After the fight, Little Tony walked down the street toward Killebrew's house. She and Kardell then walked to Withers' house and were outside talking to Withers and White when the defendants' vehicle pulled up "real fast" and the defendants "jumped out." She and the others tried to tell the defendants that they had the wrong people. She then heard two or three gunshots and saw the defendants leave. She saw White crawling up Withers' driveway. The only people she saw in the immediate area of the gunfire were Defendant Jackson and White.
Gloria Withers, Marion Withers' mother, testified that her son was eighteen years old when he was killed. On the evening of the shooting, she looked out her front door and saw Defendant Jackson fighting with her son. Several people had gathered outside, and when Ms. Withers went outside to investigate, she asked Defendant Summers what was going on, but Summers ignored her. Defendant Summers went to her vehicle and then returned to Defendant Jackson's side. Ms. Withers then heard gunshots and saw gunfire. Both defendants were close to where she saw the gunfire. Defendant Summers turned to Ms. Withers and said, "[Y]ou don't f with my motherfing family." Ms. Withers could not identify which defendant fired the weapon but said, "[I]t was one of them."
After the shooting, Ms. Withers did not see her son and when she went back inside her house, she found White, who was bleeding, on the floor leaning on the couch. Ms. Withers helped care for him until the police and emergency personnel arrived. She said that White had been shot in the chest and in his side. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Withers learned that her son had been shot and killed.
Nico White testified that on August 5, 2009, he and Withers, who was his cousin, were watching Little Tony and others play basketball when Dedrick confronted Little Tony about a BB gun. Although no one encouraged him to fight, Little Tony suddenly "popped off" ...