Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs at Knoxville September 16, 2014
Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2012-C-2806 Cheryl Blackburn, Judge
Dawn Deaner, District Public Defender; and Emma Rae Tennent (on appeal), Katherine Dix (at trial), and Mary Kathryn Harcombe (at trial), Assistant District Public Defenders, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Shayne Thomas Hudson.
Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson III, District Attorney General; Bret Thomas Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Roger A. Page, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.
ROGER A. PAGE, JUDGE
This case involves the alleged theft of a Canon camera lens from a Walmart store in Hermitage, Tennessee.
At trial, the State's first witness was Brian Hicks, an asset protection manager with Walmart Stores, Incorporated. On May 25, 2012, appellant was arrested due to his involvement in a "site to store" purchase of a Canon camera lens worth $3, 600. Mr. Hicks reviewed a document detailing the purchase, which indicated that the item was ordered and paid for on May 14 and shipped to the Walmart store in Hermitage on May 15, 2012. To pick up a "site to store" order, the purchaser must show some form of identification, which appellant did. He picked up the lens on May 25 at 5:01 p.m. and returned it at 5:43 p.m. on the same day. Mr. Hicks explained the refund policy:
It depends on what type of item and the value of that item. For high priced items such as iPads, in this case the camera lens, once it is refunded a member from claims is notified. Claims is the department that actually receives the item, processes it, sends it to our return center, which eventually will give us credit for those items. An associate from claims is called to the service desk to secure the item. They will then take that item back to the claims cage, which is a secure locked cage in which the high priced value items are secured until they can be processed and then placed on the truck and taken back to the claims center.
Mr. Hicks was notified that appellant had returned the lens approximately one hour after the transaction. The associate who had processed the return notified him because he was concerned that the contents of the box did not match the description. Mr. Hicks retrieved the lens from the claims cage and looked at it. He observed that "it was a rather nice looking Canon lens. However, the markings on it were not consistent with the model and the type." He compared the serial number on the lens to that on the box, and they were not the same. Moreover, the lens that was in the box was not a lens carried by Walmart, either online or in the store. Mr. Hicks stated that without his prior knowledge of cameras, it would have been very difficult to distinguish one lens from the other.
Mr. Hicks produced video surveillance footage from the store that showed appellant picking up his "site to store" order at the customer service desk. After obtaining the camera lens, appellant left the store at 5:22 p.m. Another camera captured appellant leaving the store and walking to his vehicle. His vehicle never left the parking lot. He re-entered the store at 5:32 p.m. Appellant entered the customer service area's camera view at 5:36 p.m., and the refund receipt was printed at 5:43:39 p.m. The tape showed the associate taping up the box containing the camera lens. Mr. Hicks explained that thereafter, the associate had to find a manager to retrieve cash from a separate location because of the amount of the refund. Because it is a lengthy process, the end of appellant's transaction is not recorded on video. Mr. Hicks testified that when he opened the box, he found a Canon camera lens that Walmart did not carry, which was valued at $265. Mr. Hicks subsequently filed a report with law enforcement.
Detective Ronald Kumrow with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department ("Metro") testified next. He investigated the theft of the camera lens from Walmart, and in that capacity, he first telephoned appellant. He made arrangements for appellant to appear at the police station on June 15, 2012, for an interview. Detective Kumrow asked appellant about the camera lens, and he initially stated that it was in his car. However, appellant then made several excuses to avoid retrieving the lens. Finally, Detective Kumrow placed appellant under arrest. At the close of this testimony, the State rested its case-in-chief.
Appellant testified on his own behalf. He stated that he did not take the camera lens and that he placed the same lens back into the box that came from the box. He explained that he ordered the camera lens from walmart.com because he had an interest in film-making and was trying to learn about different lenses. Upon receiving the lens, appellant attempted to attach it to his camera while he was sitting in his car in the parking lot. However, he discovered that the Canon lens was not compatible with his Nikon camera. He placed the lens back in the box and went back into the store with the intention of returning it.Appellant recalled that the associate "had thoroughly inspected the item and said that that was the correct lens." He had no indication that there was a problem with the return.
Appellant said that when he placed the order, he used his correct name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address. Subsequently, he received a telephone call from a law enforcement officer. Appellant maintained that he agreed with the "picture" Detective Kumrow painted of the events because he wanted to go to the police station and see the lens that he was accused of switching.
On cross-examination, appellant reiterated that the lens that he ordered was contained in the box he picked up from Walmart. He denied having prior knowledge that the lens would be incompatible with his camera. Appellant confirmed that he and two others operated a start-up video production company and that he was prominently featured on the company's website. He further stated that Detective Kumrow was lying to him on the telephone, so he "was playing the game back" by agreeing that he switched the lens. He acknowledged that even when he spoke with the detective in person, he did not simply explain that the lens did not fit his camera so he returned it.
Upon further examination, the State inquired into the circumstances surrounding appellant's 2007 guilty-pleaded conviction for theft, which involved his returning an empty iPod box to a Target store in Mount ...