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State v. Green

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

December 2, 2014


Assigned on Briefs October 29, 2014

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Robertson County No. 2013-CR-447 Michael R. Jones, Judge

Joe R. Johnson II (on appeal); and Garth Click (at trial), Springfield, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lucian Alan Green.

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jonathan H. Wardle, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Jason White, 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.



This case involves the burglary of a church and theft of a laptop belonging to one of the ministerial staff.

I. Facts

A. Trial

At appellant's November 2013 trial, the State called the victim of the theft, Robert E. MacKenzie, as its first witness. He was the youth minister at the Main Street Church of Christ in Springfield. To carry out his responsibilities, the church provided the victim with an Apple MacBook Pro laptop computer. At the time of the theft, he had been in possession of the computer for approximately one and one-half years. The computer was valued at $1, 500 when it was purchased. In addition, the victim purchased several computer programs at his own expense such as an office suite and a video-editing program that totaled approximately $300. The victim stated that at the time of the theft, the computer was in "perfect condition" and would have been valued between $1, 500 and $2, 000.

The victim explained that the church's office building was an old house and that the church secretary occupied the front area of the building, which would have been the main living room of the house. The victim's office was adjacent to her office, and the head minister's office was in the rear of the building. On March 20, 2013, the office building was opened at 8:00 a.m. and closed around 4:00 p.m. When the victim left that day, his computer was on his desk, and no one had permission to take it. When he returned to work on March 21, his computer was missing, as was the power cord and the shipping box, which had been under his desk. Nothing else was missing from his office. The victim noticed that someone had entered through his window, which was constructed of Plexiglass. "[T]he glass was pushed in, meaning they [could] reach underneath the glass and unlock the window and then push the window up from the outside and gain access." He observed that the pictures of his wife and son that were located on a table in front of the window were knocked down. The victim said that he immediately telephoned law enforcement upon discovering the theft.

The victim recalled that his computer had a feature called "Find my iPhone, " which allowed him to activate the GPS on the computer when it was connected to a wireless network. He logged on to his iPhone to trace the computer, and he received a notification around 2:20 p.m. that same afternoon. The notification read, "Sean's Mac Book is located [], " and it provided an address and coordinates. The victim explained that the notification would generally bear his name, Robert, but that someone had essentially reprogrammed his computer and changed the owner's name. When the victim received a name and address, he telephoned the detective in charge and gave him the information. By that night, officers had recovered the computer. The victim received the computer the following day, but because of the programming changes, all of his files and software had been "swiped clean." The files included curriculum, journals of conversations with teenagers, personal journals, and videos he had been editing. In sum, the victim estimated that "thousands of hours [were] just gone." The victim testified that he knew appellant through a mutual acquaintance at the Robertson County YMCA. He had not seen appellant near the time of the theft.

On cross-examination, the victim acknowledged that during the time he owned the computer, newer models of the Apple MacBook had been released and newer versions of the software he had purchased had also been released.

The State's next witness was Stephanie Keys, a children's service officer at the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center. Appellant was her former step-brother. At the time of the theft, Ms. Keys had not been in contact with appellant for "a few months." However, around 3:00 a.m. on March 21, 2013, he telephoned her. She was awake because she was working a double shift. Ms. Keys recalled that appellant informed her that he had no place to sleep that night and asked if he could come over, which he had done on occasion in the past. She said that he could but told appellant that she did not finish her shift until 6:00 a.m. Appellant also told Ms. Keys that he had something in which he thought her brother, Sean[1] Perry, may be interested. Appellant telephoned Ms. Keys shortly after 6:00 a.m. and told her that he was en route to her boyfriend's house, where Ms. Keys lived at the time. He arrived at the house around 6:30 a.m., and he had a DVD player with him. After making appellant comfortable on the sofa, Ms. Keys retired to her bedroom upstairs and awakened at 11:30 a.m. Appellant, who was still there, asked her to call her brother and inquire if he wanted to purchase an Apple laptop from him. Mr. Perry was interested in the computer and met appellant at Ms. Keys' residence between 12:00 and 12:30 p.m. Appellant retrieved the computer from his vehicle, and they began to discuss a purchase price. Ms. Keys recalled that at one point, appellant said "that he had got[ten] it from some other person that had [given] him another laptop that did not work, and they gave him this one to replace that one." Mr. Perry and appellant walked outside to conclude their business, and Ms. Keys began to get ready to go to work. When she left the house to go to work, both men had departed. She was not privy to what transpired outside, but she was aware that Mr. Perry intended to purchase the computer.

Sean Perry testified next and stated that appellant had been his step-brother until his mother and appellant's father divorced in 2011. In 2013, Mr. Perry had not seen appellant in approximately five to six years. On March 21, 2013, Mr. Perry's sister, Ms. Keys, contacted him about a computer that appellant was selling. Mr. Perry and appellant had already negotiated the price of the computer before he arrived at Ms. Keys' residence; he would pay $300 in cash and would cancel out a $300 debt that appellant owed him. When Mr. Perry arrived, he inspected the computer and characterized it as being in "good condition." He estimated that the same computer would retail from $1, 200 to $1, 500 in stores. Appellant told Mr. Perry that he acquired the computer from someone for whom he had performed work but who ...

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