Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs October 29, 2014
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Wayne County No. 15236 Jim T. Hamilton, Judge
Claudia S. Jack, District Public Defender, Columbia, Tennessee; and Robert H. Stovall, Jr., Assistant District Public Defender, Pulaski, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert E. Odle.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin Smith, Assistant Attorney General; T. Michel Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Joel Douglas Dicus, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Roger A. Page, J., delivered
the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Robert H.
Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.
ROGER A. PAGE, JUDGE
Appellant was indicted by a Wayne County grand jury for aggravated arson after he set fire to the house of his brother, Charles Odle. Appellant admitted his involvement but asserted the affirmative defense of insanity. The jury rejected the insanity defense and convicted him as charged. The trial court sentenced appellant to fifteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.
At appellant's trial, Wayne County Sheriff's Deputy Patrick Dustin Malugent testified that he responded to a house fire on Collinwood Highway on April 11, 2012. When he arrived, the victim's house was fully engulfed in flames. Deputy Malugent learned that the victim had been inside when the fire began but escaped unharmed. Deputy Malugent did not see appellant in the area at the time. He returned "a couple hours later" and "made contact" with appellant at appellant's trailer, which was next door to the victim's house. Deputy Malugent asked appellant if he had seen the fire, and appellant responded, "'I set it.'" Deputy Malugent testified that he immediately informed appellant of his constitutional rights and transported appellant to the sheriff's office, where appellant gave a statement. Deputy Malugent read the statement aloud:
It boiled down to me and my brother and my sister. Every time my mama's flowers would come up, he, Charles, would cut it down[, ] and we had been arguing about it for a long time. Today they had Sandy Newman come and mow the yard and I ran him off.
[In response to being asked what he did during the fire:] I knew, he, Charles, was in the house and I took a hammer and started beating on the side of the house, and told him to get out. And I stood there to make sure he got out.
[In response to being asked how he started the fire:] I poured gas out of a can on to toilet paper, on the back porch, and threw a match on it.
Appellant told Deputy Malugent that he did not intend to hurt his brother and that his reason for setting the fire was that he was "tired of him cutting down everything that I plant."
Deputy Malugent testified that he had no problem communicating with appellant. Appellant appeared to understand his questions, and he gave intelligent answers. Deputy Malugent said that he did not feel that it ...